County attorney again declines to file charges into alleged sexual assault by Gopher football players -- Review of the case didn't uncover any significant new evidence, said County Attorney Mike Freeman.
By David Chanen Star Tribune - December 30, 2016 — 4:21pm
[...] Freeman said that veteran prosecutors, [and] victim witness advocates of his office reviewed the university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) report that resulted in the suspension of 10 Gopher football players after a student's claims of sexual assault from the Sept. 2 incident were found valid by a university investigator.
"That report shined a light on what can only be described as deplorable behavior." Freeman said in a statement. "And while the university's investigation included a handful of new interviews, the information elicited was not significantly different from the information presented to this office following a thorough investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department."
Freeman said that reviewing the EOAA report and comparing it to the MPD investigation shows "no new significant evidence" that would enable prosecutors to bring charges against any of the players. He pointed out that prosecutors have a higher standard of proof than the University.
"As a result, our decision not to bring charges remains unchanged." Freeman said.
[...] The EOAA report, which was made public when it was obtained and released by KSTP-TV, found after a four-month investigation that the alleged victim's account was "more credible" than the players'.
[...] One of the witnesses interviewed by the EOAA included a football player who told the EOAA that he and others were listening at the door when he recalled "from the stuff [the woman] said, it didn't seem like she was into it. She said something and [the men present] decided it was messed up."
That statement proved to be crucial in the school's actions in finding the woman's account of Sept. 2 more credible than the players' statements.
The university also uncovered evidence indicating that the players "deliberately attempted to impede the university's fact-finding efforts," according to its report.
But the university has more leverage over students, who have to talk to EOAA investigators or face violating the student conduct code, which could result in anything from a warning to an expulsion.
Those guys got railroaded.
Do you see anything in attorney Hewitt's staff output that hints of respect for due process?
If so, please in a comment state what.
That Hewitt staff is guilty of spoilation of evidence, in having not preserved a video record of interviews while appearing to have a prior intent to find wrong-doing. Their interview process was entirely in their hands, and any reasonably objective person would say, "Why not preserve a record? What's wrong with that idea?"
The affected players should sue. If doing that they should be entitled to get discovery of initial and ongoing emails and conversations Hewitt had with Coyle and/or with Kaler. I.e., inquiry aimed to uncover admissible evidence of ongoing bias, if any, and prejudicial intent entering into things.
The video the police reviewed is objective. It does not lie. It does not misrecollect. It does not make highly quesitonable "credibility" decisions with a dismissive sentence or two in a frigging eighty page report. The EOAA-Hewitt staff persons never looked at video evidence if I read the 80 pages correctly.
Why not? Wouldn't you, if wanting to be fair and objective?
And the accused have Fifth Amendment rights; and the right to have an attorney present during any questioning by authorities where a punitive penalty, civil or criminal, is at risk. If EOAA advised them of their Miranda rights, the 80 page EOAA report of its record assembly is wholly bare of any such contention.
BOTTOM LINE: If the EOAA effort does not reek of prior intent arguably bordering on bias to you; your opinions of the quality of the Hewitt staff's conduct, aims, and output differs from mine. That EOAA report is circumstantial evidence of the internal EOAA procedures and methodology; and inferences within the public from circumstances surrounding the EOAAs document history and content can differ person-to-person.
To me, it stinks.
Yes the young men acted in a way most in Minnesota would view as "deplorable" just as Freeman stated. But "deplorable" is a judgmental word one can also attach to the Hewitt-Coyle-Kaler way of doing things; and they would be expected to show a higher level of maturity and dedication to fairness and dedicated due process than ten eighteen or nineteen year old jocks.
After all, their salaries are higher. [UPDATE: If you can find how much public taxpayer dollars are and have been paid annually to Kimberly Hewitt, for example, you are a better web searcher than I am. It is public data, and should be directly and easily available. Especially for a human resources area employee. There is this, but what if you are not within the University community with a MyU account, ... This link exists; so where's Hewitt? And what's her severance benefit package and retirement plan; i.e., the entire compensation package vs. a scholarship if you can keep it, for the jocks. Shouldn't there be transparency on taxpayer dollars spent on UMn salaries and perks? Administrative department head salaries in particular, i.e., for that close-knit internal small-membership leadership club?]
BINGO: Hat tip to BizJournal; yielding a single dated record, 2014, but indicative - follow the link for each data item's caption:
$134,735.00 [2014 salary]
Equal Opp & Affirm Action
So, going into 2017; and guessing at the perks; say two hundred grand +/-. 250?
For what, fairness or pursuit of an agenda? Football players collectively with not only numbers on their backs, but targets (quoting from that summer 2015 email, last paragraph) "scheduling a strategy" does suggest some level of prior inclination for 2016. I.e., a scheduled strategy.
Pursuit of "the football program?" An ongoing effort at finding a complainant who'd proceed [none would in 2015 per that email]; and then what objectively reasonable steps would you guess were taken to lead to "credibility" being determined in some quaint closed-door fashion as noted in passing in a conclusory cursory ten line paragraph in an 80 page document? Is this right or wrong? You decide.
Google search = "kimberly hewitt" site:http://www.startribune.com/
Understanding history? That search returned the linked email, posted by Strib; within this 2015 summary report.
Railroading? Greasing the skids? This July 2016 Strib item stating:
The University of Minnesota is creating a special panel of students, faculty members and staff to decide if students accused of sexual assault should be disciplined.
Officials said they plan to train a pool of 35 volunteers to preside over hearings, as part of an effort to cope with an upsurge in complaints about sexual misconduct on campus.
“We thought we could make some changes, make the overall process move faster,” said Kimberly Hewitt, director of the U’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, which investigates complaints of sexual assault.
In the past, students who were unhappy with the outcomes of those investigations could request a hearing before the Campus Committee on Student Behavior. But Hewitt said there was growing concern that the committee members, who also handle complaints about cheating and plagiarism, needed more training to handle allegations about sexual assault.
Creating a Star Chamber? An existing body side-tracked to be more "efficient" after being "suitably trained?" That wording may not track the precise terminology of Strib's report; but they capture the gist. How else would you read it? In your mind how does that excerpt square with the year-earlier aim of cementing a "strategy?"
If "due process" and norms were deliberately eschewed; norms such as having a jury-like requirement reflecting peer values - judgment by peers fairly and unbiasedly selected, and proceedings in the open and not behind closed doors apply before young men, regardless of what they did in having what arguably was "consensual sex" with a single female, together and in sequence, are severely punished; then the thing should be remanded, for precisely that. If due process does not apply; what in the world is this university teaching their students? And why in the world are taxpaying citizens paying for that? If you trust that eighty page report as objectively flawless; bless you for being a most trusting soul. I distrust it. Cutting corners; and disdaining the notion of keeping an unimpeachable record where video interviewing is easily implemented; suggest specific goal-oriented "efficiency" trumped good judgment and sound practice.
Opinions can differ.
Lovers of pure irony should be certain to read that last referenced Strib item; all the way to the final paragraph. There had been a right to a hearing de novo if the closed door admin review outcome was disliked. What happened, and why, with the question reaching beyond what administrators at the U were quoted to have said in support of junking a hearing de novo? It is bothersome. Sophistry frequently is.
It would be helpful if, beyond bald assertion, attorney Hewitt would lay out the argument that Title IX gives her EOAA jurisdiction off-campus, over the sexual lives and practices of students; ideally with specific citation to statute and case authority. Also, is there any rationale beyond streamlining to have junked a right to a more public followup hearing de novo, beyond some sort of internal closed door thing without any record preserved from which an appellate review panel might find error?
Again, read that last cited Strib item all the way to its final paragraph. In reporting, Hewitt has been quoted asserting Title IX justifies all she engineered as she engineered it; and rational skepticism wanting a showing beyond that bald assertion ought to be forthcoming. As a thing of value in educating the young about the right way to be doing things. It was not up to Wolitarsky and Leidner (and other senior ball players aware of prior events) to do that educating. It is not part of their employment contract.
In closing a lack of expertise in Title IX here at Crabgrass is admitted. Attorney Hewitt claims to be a crackerjack expert on it and gets that generous publicly paid six figure salary. Her feet need holding to the fire to produce a credibly structured argument that her EOAA jurisdiction goes to expressions of adult student [the woman and the men are by law adults] sexual expression choices off campus.
Remember the beginning of this post noting Freeman reviewed and held firm: Within his jurisdiction, there was no prosecutable offense. Hewitt must justify her assertion of jurisdiction as a first step; and then she must explain all the corner cutting, lack of a decent record, and junking of a right to a hearing de novo as somehow, beyond hand waving, arising from Title IX. It is that, or a question of whether she truly is earning her paycheck or whether she might be replaced in an upgrade effort. After all, that seems to be the unchallenged test to which Coach Clayes is now being subjected.