‘Board sides with alleged rapist’ sparks up discussion

Julio Rodriguez
Grace Sgambettera
Creative Editor

Many students had something to say after last week’s article “Board rules in favor of alleged rapist”, including another former student who came forward with her own allegations that the college encouraged her to keep her sexual assault away from the police.

“They told me if I dropped the case through the school, I could go to the police to continue it, but refused to let me drop the case,” said former social work student Emerson. “So it wasn’t so much as them encouraging me to keep it away from the police as it was them not letting me. They presented the option to me, but didn’t give me the choice to take it.”

On Oct. 9, 2016, Emerson was allegedly raped by another student who she said she considered to be a friend.

“I didn’t want to go to the cops because I don’t trust police and I knew they wouldn’t do anything about it. I still haven’t gone to them,” said Emerson.

Emerson agreed to meet with school officials last fall and described the interaction as “intimidating.”

“The overarching vibe was that no one in the room believed me or even wanted to be there, but that it was their duty or something so they had to be. Despite me saying over and over I didn’t want to go through [with the] case,” said Emerson.

Emerson says she then experienced a “kangaroo court.”

“It was a kangaroo case in March through April, because it never went before the actual court at school. They told me at our last meeting he wouldn’t be kicked out of school,” said Emerson.

A kangaroo court is defined as an unofficial court held by a group of people in order to try someone regarded, especially without good evidence, as guilty of a crime or misdemeanor.

Emerson moved away after the situation was handled by the judicial system at the college.

“I didn’t want to continue going to a school that was ok with protecting rapists, and I really didn’t wanna risk running into him or any of our friends after the case was done because I was getting really thinly veiled threats,” said Emerson.

In a campus wide email sent to students on Thursday, President Matonak assured the community that Hudson Valley complies with state and federal law in their judicial proceedings on campus.

“I want to reiterate to our community that we remain committed to an immediate and impartial response in all matters that involve sexual harassment or violence,” wrote Matonak.

Matonak reminded the community that students have the option to report within the school judicial system and with local law enforcement.

“We also make it very clear that each student has the right to make a report to local law enforcement while our internal judicial process may also take place. Regardless of a student’s decision to do so, we must follow procedures that comply with state and federal law to determine if a violation of our Student Code of Conduct occurred,” wrote Matonak.

Matonak continued, “The process may then lead to a judicial board hearing, where a fair and impartial review of the facts takes place, and all parties may be heard with their chosen advisors present. A college sanction, up to suspension or expulsion, may be an outcome of the case,” wrote Matonak.

Other Hudson Valley students have also been inspired to speak up about the situation, and share their own perspectives.

Fine arts student Jan Redman said he feels that the school is “grossly mishandling” the rape cases it sees.

“Multiple victims have been told not to go to the police, who could be instrumental in collecting evidence. It’s despicable,” said Redman.
After reading the article, Redman said he went to Title IX coordinator Sandra McCarthy’s office to gain some insight into the judicial process at Hudson Valley and share his concern about the allegations.

“When I went to see the title IX coordinator she basically pointed at the school’s ‘complaint’ handling process. She read me pamphlets while shrugging, like it was out of their hands,” he said.

Redman is concerned that the college is pushing students into a kangaroo court.
“They won’t acknowledge that they’re actually pushing vulnerable people into this watered-down kangaroo court,” said Redman.

Students are not all in agreement about the situation, or even the coverage it was given by news media outlets.

Individual studies student Joseph Lyle emailed to say he disapproves of The Hudsonian’s coverage of the story.

“It appears that the authors were automatically siding with Ashley based on how the article was written,” said Lyle. “There are no quotes from the accused and appears to push the narrative of him being guilty after a unanimous determination from the judicial hearing that he had not violated the Student Code of Conduct based on Title IX.”

Lyle continued, “Using the headline ‘Board sides with alleged rapist’ is misleading and should have been changed. It makes the school look bad because it didn’t deal with the alleged rapist the way that Ashley had wanted.”

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