Graduate Students

U. of Iowa Fires 2 Vice Presidents Over Handling of Rape Accusations

September 23, 2008

The University of Iowa has fired two senior administrators who were singled out for criticism in an outside law firm’s investigation of the university’s response to an alleged sexual assault. President Sally Mason had asked the two men — Phillip Jones, vice president for student services, and Marcus Mills, vice president for legal affairs and general counsel — to resign, and when they declined, she fired them, according to a statement on the university’s Web site.

The state Board of Regents hired the law firm, the Stolar Partnership, to look into how the unversity had handled an athlete’s accusations last fall that two football players had raped her in an unoccupied room in a residence hall. The accused players have both pleaded not guilty and are awaiting a trial set to begin on November 3.

In a report presented to the regents last week, the Stolar group’s investigators found “substantial flaws” in how the allegations were handled, and in the university’s policies for handling such cases. The report criticized Mr. Jones on numerous counts, including a failure to remove the accused players from the dormitory they shared with their accuser, and a failure to protect the woman from retaliation and harassment by other athletes. It found that Mr. Mills had micromanaged the university’s response to the assault allegations, taking on roles that presented a conflict of interest and contributing to perceptions that the university was trying to cover up the complaint. The report found no evidence of a cover-up, however.

Ms. Mason is scheduled to meet with the regents on Thursday to discuss how the university will respond to the recommendations in the Stolar group’s report. —Charles Huckabee