Sexual Assault Allegations at SLU
October 5, 2017
On Aug. 25, the Department of Public Safety released a timely warning on a sexual assault that took place the previous day. The incident was reported by three women, two of which are current SLU students, and occurred in an on-campus apartment. The perpetrators of the alleged sexual assault are student athletes who currently attend the University. SLU’s Department of Public Safety was originally alerted to the assault by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department who had already begun an investigation.
Dr. Pestello spoke out about the incident in an email sent the day after the incident. Pestello’s email revealed more details on the University’s response to the allegations of sexual assault. Included in the announcement was the information that, while Saint Louis University and the Athletics Department is fully cooperating with the SLMPD on the investigation of this case, the University would also be launching their own investigation using the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity’s Title IX coordinator and an external investigation team. The Title IX coordinator’s job is to oversee all complaints that deal with sex discrimination, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. In the email, Pestello also promised that “our process will be conducted in a thorough, fair and impartial manner.”
When asked about the team that the University would be using alongside the Title IX Coordinator, a statement from the University announced that an external investigative team from the firm of Cozen O’Conner will be used, as “the firm’s Institutional Response Group is recognized as a national leader in issues related to Title IX compliance, ranging from policy development to investigations to training and education.” Cozen O’Conner’s Institutional Response Group has a history of advising universities on Title IX processes, commonly taking cases regarding gender and sexual harassment and violence.
The investigations conducted by the SLMPD and this investigation will be completely separate from each other. The two investigations will be focusing on different aspects of the case. A University statement clarified the difference between the two cases, pointing out that “while the findings of a police investigation can be used as part of the fact-finding portion of a Title IX investigation, a Title IX investigation is not a criminal investigation. A criminal investigation addresses alleged violations of criminal law. A Title IX investigation is a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of reports of conduct that is prohibited by SLU’s sexual misconduct policy.”
Saint Louis University’s sexual misconduct policy refers to “a wide range of behaviors and encompasses any sexual behavior that was committed without consent” and includes incidents such as “sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating/relationship violence, and domestic violence”. Any violation of this policy can result in a Title IX investigation entirely separate from a police investigation.
When asked about the next steps taken if SLMPD chooses not to press charges, a University statement stated, “The standards for criminal investigations are different from those used for Title IX investigations. Regardless of the outcome of a criminal investigation, colleges’ and universities’ obligations under Title IX are not affected. SLU’s Title IX investigation is ongoing and will continue.”
As of today, no names or information on any of the students involved in the incident have been released. When asked, a Saint Louis University statement said that “colleges and universities are prohibited by the federal student privacy law from releasing student conduct information without a student’s consent, except in very limited circumstances.”
To formally report an instance of sexual misconduct, we encourage you to contact:
Department of Public Safety and Security Services: If the incident requires immediate emergency attention, contact DPSSS at 314-977-3000.
Title IX Coordinator: 314-977-3886
Dean of Students: 314-977-5028
Residence Hall Staff: 314-977-2811
Office of Student Conduct: 314-977-7280
To confidentially report an instance of sexual misconduct, we encourage you to contact:
Student Health and Counseling: 314-977-2323 (24-hour line) to speak to a licensed counselor.
University’s Compliance Hotline: 877-525-5669 (24-hour line).