U of M to review handling of assault case

Published 12:30 pm Saturday, March 25, 2017

The University of Minnesota has ordered a review of how it handled allegations of sexual assault involving football players last fall.

Board of Regents chairman Dean Johnson announced at the board’s meeting in Duluth on Friday that the university’s chief auditor will manage the review.

“Over the past several months the University of Minnesota endured a difficult period,” said Johnson. “We must take a step back and learn so we can do better.”

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The university has been praised and criticized for how it handled allegations by a student who accused multiple players of sexually assaulting her at a postgame party last September.

Prosecutors declined to file criminal charges, citing insufficient evidence. But the university suspended 10 players following an internal investigation. One was later expelled, another was suspended for a year, four were cleared, one got probation and three who faced potential expulsion transferred to Arizona Western Community College.

While a draft resolution calling for an investigation was circulated before Friday’s meeting, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported that it wasn’t formally introduced and no vote was taken. That draft cited numerous missteps by the university, including “inconsistent statements” about the “timing and basis” for its actions.

Johnson said the new review should be completed by May.

The woman alleged that she was pressured into having sex with multiple football players. The players who acknowledged having sex with her said it was consensual. A report by the university’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action department determined 10 players violated the student conduct code, including several who did not have sex with her.

The entire team threatened to boycott the Holiday Bowl while lobbying for due process for the 10 players. Head coach Tracy Claeys backed them, but they ultimately decided to play. One week after Gophers’ upset 17-12 victory over Washington State, the university fired Claeys amid the fallout from the boycott.