In the last 14 years, no alleged perpetrator of sexual assault on the UMD campus faced disciplinary actions from UMD. Two perpetrators in the last 10 years faced criminal charges. Both were sentenced in 2009, according to Gary Bjorklund, criminal division head for the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office. Bjorklund said there is one more UMD case pending investigation. These records don’t include off-campus incidents, which are handled by the Duluth Police Department, or disciplinary actions administered by the UMD Athletic Department.
While UMD has a policy for disciplining students who commit sexual assault, no student has been disciplined in at least 14 years, said Judith Karon, the school’s director of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity.
Karon said that there are two complaints in the UMD complaint database, which dates back to 1998. She wrote in an email, “there was no finding of any violation of a university policy and therefore no discipline in either of those cases.”
Karon said that for most of that time, UMD directed all sexual assault cases to the UMDPD.
“Prior to 2010, our office did not conduct non-criminal investigations of reported incidents of sexual assault; those cases were only handled by the UMD Police Department or other law enforcement agency given the criminal nature of sexual assault,” Karon wrote.
For over a decade, colleges have been required by federal law to have an internal avenue for handling complaints of sexual assault.
In 1997, the Office for Civil Rights issued guidance to schools stating “the importance of having well-publicized and effective grievance procedures in place to handle complaints of sex discrimination.” Sexual assault is considered a form of sex discrimination.
“I’m shocked that there has not, until 2010, been a way for students to complain, you know, to report an incident to the officials and take action against the perpetrator of that attack,” said Megan McKendry, co-communications coordinator and board member of Students Active for Ending Rape at Columbia University in New York. “That amazes me. It’s almost unbelievable.”
Karon said, “Every time we have an individual who is found to have violated policies and procedures, we have acted accordingly.”
When presented with the lack of disciplinary actions by UMD against students for sexual assault in the last decade or more, Chancellor Lendley Black said he was surprised.
“If it’s true, it is concerning to me,” he said. Black said the school is continuing its efforts to make the campus safe and welcoming.
“We are and will continue to be very proactive in helping our student body understand what sexual violence is and how to be aware both in terms of those who may be victims as well as those who may be perpetrators,” Black said.
Find more on this investigation: Surveys reveal big gap in sexual assault reporting at UMD Sexual assault victims feel pressured to drop charges UMD changing some policies on how it handles sex assaults No one is immune: A former UMD student’s story of sexual assault
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