BuzzFeed brings an Arkansas perspective
SAU: Former student faulks response to sexual assault complaint.
to the growing national story about response to sexual assault
on college campuses
Here, Taylor Moore
tells the publication about her report to Southern Arkansas University
campus police of unwanted groping by a roommate of a boyfriend in December.
Moore reported the incident to campus police, university officials, and prosecutors, starting a nearly seven-month process that she said was mishandled by officials. “I am shocked, disappointed, and I feel betrayed by both systems,” Moore said, adding, “My overall impression is that they either did not want to do their job or they did not know how.”
The university, local prosecutor, and city attorney said they followed normal procedures. But the Southern Arkansas University spokesperson, Vicki Butler, also told BuzzFeed News in a written statement that the case is now being reinvestigated — where any person with knowledge of the event will be interviewed — because Moore “was given verbal and not written notice” of her rights under Title IX, the federal gender equality law.
And after nearly three months — and several recent messages from BuzzFeed News — the city attorney, John Stobaugh, said Tuesday he is considering filing misdemeanor charges in the case.
Moore has transferred from Southern Arkansas in Magnolia to Henderson State. She had hopes of being a cheerleader.
Her account includes her statement that the campus police chief, Jeff Jester,
said no crime had occurred without penetration. Jester apparently made no police report on her complaint. A campus spokesman also contended that what Moore initially told Jester did not constitute a violation of law. Moore said the male student stood before her naked, with an erect penis, and groped her butt and vaginal area. She saw text messages between him and her former boyfriend that she said led her to believe they'd planned the encounter.
Moore complained of text messages that she took to be retaliatory and said she eventually agreed to a university proposal for a one-year suspension of the student who groped her, but she said she learned she hadn't been fully informed of options available under Title IX, including the possibility of no-contact orders and a disciplinary hearing.
Moore tried to pursue criminal charges, but Prosecutor David Butler
said the allegation was "at most" a misdemeanor and thus under the jurisdiction of the city attorney. He said the prosecutor rarely acted in cases where the college took action. He also described the matter as a "he said, she said" case. (Why is it such statements are always followed by a decision that invariably gives more credence to what HE said?)
“He was suspended for a year,” David Butler told BuzzFeed News. “A one-year suspension is not light punishment.”
Butler dug himself a deeper hole with the irrelevant (and perhaps inapplicable here) alcohol angle.
“What we found in Arkansas, a majority of these cases, where alcohol is involved and there’s the issue of whether it was consensual sex or not … if you took that in front of a jury, they’d laugh you out of the courtroom,” he said. (Moore said alcohol wasn’t a factor in this case, and she said the roommate touching her was not consensual.)
“I looked at it and I didn’t see enough sexual contact to make it a felony,” David Butler told BuzzFeed News.
Moore's attorney contacted City Attorney John Stobaugh in April. He said he is now considering misdemeanor charges.