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Tuesday, Dec. 5
The Indiana Daily Student


IU student calls out panelists who heard and denied her sexual assault case


An update containing Ellie Johnson's response to this article is included below.

The story so far

IU has come under fire in the past few weeks as a student's posts about her sexual assault case have gone viral on social media.

The student, Ellie Johnson, has posted online the University violated Title IX multiple times while investigating her case

Her first tweet about her case was posted June 25, and has been shared more than 2,000 times and been liked more than 5,000 times, and resulted in the creation of the #WeStandWithEllie hashtag, along with numerous responses and interactions with other Twitter users.

Since then, a stream of comments and remarks from Johnson have been attached to different IU social media posts. 

As of July 10, Johnson had also posted the contact info, personal information and, in one case, the Facebook profile for the different panelists for her case. In her posts, Johnson said these people destroyed her life and they should be held accountable.

Chuck Carney, IU director of media relations, said while the University has no gag order on students like Johnson, there is an expectation the outcome letter students receive will and should remain private.

"There really is no precedent for this," Carney said. "The expectation is that students would not reveal the outcome letter which has the name of the panelists on it."

Carney explained Johnson's actions might make it harder for IU to find panelists willing to undergo the training and time commitment required for panelists to hear sexual assault cases.

At least one person Johnson mentioned, confirmed they had received an email related to Johnson's case and IU's sexual assault procedures in general.

Also on July 10, Johnson posted on Twitter that she filed a Title IX complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, which is a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Education. 

In fall 2017, the IDS published "The System," a four-part series offering an in-depth investigation into IU's extra-judicial process. 

According to that reporting, hearing panelists are selected based on a list of IU employees who have completed IU's sexual misconduct training. The training is available to faculty and staff across various departments, and no legal expertise or continuing education is required. 

One panelist must be a student affairs administrator, and each member must complete an annual day-and-a-half-long seminar composed of in-person and online parts, but those are the main components for eligibility on a panel overseeing sexual assault cases.

In a series of tweets posted by Johnson since June 25, she said IU violated Title IX and University procedures in her sexual assault case.

She said her appeal was denied and IU was "standing by their original decision." 

Johnson also tweeted she would have been better off not reporting her case to the University, saying "I could’ve spared myself the heartache, despair and agony knowing the system was against me from the start." 

On the evening of June 26, the University published a response on social media and also provided a fuller statement to the Indiana Daily Student when asked to do so.

In the statement provided, Carney reaffirmed the process used by the University in the investigation, as well as IU's commitment to fostering a safe environment for students, faculty and staff.

"A three-person panel, pulled from a pool of faculty and staff who receive extensive training in matters of sexual assault, carefully considered all facts and evidence presented and rendered its decision, which is based on a preponderance of evidence," Carney said in the statement. 

While unable to comment on details of the specific case or on the areas of study for the panelists, Carney confirmed that after the initial investigation, the decision was affirmed in an independent review.

Johnson responded to Carney's comments and this story, saying Carney is responsible along with her panelists. She said she expected IU-Bloomington to keep her safe but instead the panelists protected her rapist.

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