U. of Iowa Mishandled Rape Accusations Against Football Players, Report Says

September 18, 2008

The University of Iowa made a series of missteps in the weeks and months after a student accused two football players of sexually assaulting her last fall, according to an independent investigation presented today to the university’s Board of Regents, The Des Moines Register and the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.

The alleged victim, who was also an athlete at the university, accused the two football players of raping her last October in an unoccupied room in a residence hall. The two men, identified as Cedric Everson, 19, and Abe Satterfield, 20, have been indefinitely suspended from the team. Both have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting a trial set to begin on November 3.

Iowa’s regents hired a law firm to investigate the university’s response to the allegations after learning of two letters the alleged victim’s mother had sent to university officials. The letters, which the mother later released to the Press-Citizen, accused top university officials, including Sally Mason, the president, and Phillip Jones, the vice president for student services, of distancing themselves from her daughter as she endured harassment from football players and other athletes.

Investigators with the law firm, Stolar Partnership, based in Dallas and St. Louis, found several problems with how the university had responded to the allegations. Among other criticisms, they faulted the university for failing to show the letters to the Board of Regents and for not providing adequate counseling to the alleged victim when she was interviewed by university officials. They did not find signs that the university had attempted to cover up the accusations, both newspapers reported.

In its recommendations, the report urges university officials to engage in a “comprehensive review” of policies concerning sexual assaults and to make immediate changes in those procedures.

The board will address the report’s findings at a meeting next week. —Libby Sander