Jason Casares served as the director of IU’s Office of Student Ethics for five and a half years, overseeing all University investigations of sexual misconduct, until last year when the administrator himself was accused of sexual assault.
In his time at IU, the Office of Student Ethics adopted a 40-hour sexual violence training module, received more than $250,000 in additional funding and accepted multiple national awards, according to Casares’ personal website.
He spoke regularly at student affairs conferences and served as president-elect of the Association for Student Conduct Administration — a national organization that offers training for student conduct offices at universities across the country.
But for Casares, everything changed with a tweet.
Feb. 3, 2016, Jill Creighton, an administrator at New York University, tweeted an open letter to members of the ASCA, accusing Casares of taking advantage of her after having too much to drink at a December 2015 Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors convention in Fort Worth, Texas.
The day before, the ASCA announced in a press release that Casares had resigned his position as president-elect of the student conduct organization, providing no reason. Some time shortly before the announcement, Creighton was named the new ASCA president-elect.
“As we speak on moral courage, I share mine,” Creighton said in a tweet. “You voted me President-Elect, please read my open letter to you. #asca16”
In the one-page letter, Creighton wrote that Casares resigned his role as president-elect after Creighton requested his impeachment from the ASCA. She filed a report with the Fort Worth Police Department and said she asked the association to cancel sessions at which Casares was scheduled to speak during an annual ASCA conference set for February 2016. The ASCA did not cancel Casares’ speaking engagement, so Creighton took to Twitter during the week of the conference.
“I ... could not stand the hypocrisy of Jason parading his expertise on Title IX, knowing how he had behaved with me,” Creighton said in a tweet
Things unfolded quickly after Creighton’s tweet.
The ASCA released a letter to its members the next day stating the association hired an independent law firm to investigate Creighton’s allegations, and the review ultimately found Creighton’s claims to be unsubstantiated.
The same day, IU confirmed that Casares had been placed on paid administrative leave from his position as an associate dean of students and announced a review of all cases Casares had overseen as a sexual misconduct hearing panel chair dating back to August 2015.
Casares’ attorney denied Creighton’s claims in a statement to media, calling her tweets “inappropriate and false public statements.” Neither Casares nor Creighton responded to requests to be interviewed for this series.
Casares resigned from IU in late February 2016, but he didn’t speak publicly until after a Fort Worth police investigation found no cause to press charges.
“A false and wrongful allegation of sexual assault, publicly levied against me, has been and continues to be the toughest challenge of my life,” Casares wrote in his blog, adding that it “remains the most harmful and life-altering experience I have ever endured. And, it will not break me.”
In April 2016, IU announced that its review, conducted by IU Maurer School of Law Professor Emerita Julia Lamber, found no “bias or undue influence” in cases heard by Casares in fall 2015.
Today, Casares keeps a low profile, occasionally tweeting about the Chicago White Sox, his family and trends in higher education. He is now a consultant, according to his website, and has tweeted from multiple leadership-building conferences.
“The passion is still there,” Casares wrote in his April 2016 blog. “The commitment is there. And I will continue that work just like our colleagues and professionals who have experienced sexual assault themselves, who continue to do their work in objective ways as investigators and panel members of Title IX hearings.”
Since Casares’ resignation, staff at the Office of Student Ethics — recently renamed the Office of Student Conduct — has changed almost entirely. Harold ‘Pete’ Goldsmith, dean of students at the time of Casares’ resignation, spoke to the IDS in March 2016 and apologized to students.
“I certainly understand their concerns,” Goldsmith said. “I think with Mr. Casares’ resignation, we hope to restore whatever trust has been eroded, and we’ll do everything that we can to do that.”
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