Rape case investigation concludes, assailant not yet sanctioned

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Students, (From left to right) Ally Vahalik, Courtney Hood, Isao Yoshino, Haruka Kawabata and Mana Hasegawa held handmade signs during their protest of alleged sexual assault that occured on campus. Erin Granger / Sun Star Photo credit: Erin Granger


Note: An earlier version of this story indicated the case had been closed. The Title IX investigation has concluded, but the case has not yet been closed by the Dean of Students, according to UAF spokesperson Marmian Grimes.

An investigation into the alleged rape in September has been concluded by the campus Title IX Office, according to information released by alleged victim Jessie Wattum. The Dean of Students has yet to make a determination in the case and the assailant has not yet received sanctions.

An email was sent to Wattum by Title IX investigator Kevin Calderara, confirming her original statement that she could not give consent. Wattum publicly posted a picture of the email to her Facebook after the fact.

“[The] respondent had sexual contact and sexual intercourse with the complainant [Wattum],” the email read. “The complainant was incapacitated as the result of alcohol and unable to consent to sexual contact or sexual intercourse.”

Laura McCollough, dean of students, refused to confirm whether or not the case has in fact been completed, citing university confidentiality rules.

While McCollough declined to speak on the case, Wattum said the dean of students emailed her with the conclusion, that the student who allegedly raped her will now have limited access to campus.

“She emailed me saying that he had been trespassed from all the dorms,” Wattum said. “He wasn’t allowed to live on campus anymore, and he wasn’t allowed on campus before 8 a.m. and after 10 p.m. So that was his punishment for raping me.”

Wattum, a former sophomore, first spoke out about her case in a Facebook post in October. In this post, Wattum stated she was raped by a fellow student in Bartlett Hall on Sept. 3, after being incapacitated by drugs.

After that she assumed she kept “getting plied with alcohol,” rendering her unable to give consent, Wattum told Alaska Public Media.

Calderara also stated “the respondent knew or should have known” that Wattum was incapacitated and unable to provide consent. He went on to state that the alleged rapist was not incapacitated by alcohol at time of the incident.

“He knew that I was not able to give consent,” Wattum said in an interview with KUAC. “He knew that and he did it anyway.”

Calderara informed Wattum he was passing his findings on to McCollough.

McCollough confirmed the case was being processed by the Dean of Students Office in early December and no disciplinary action had been taken at that point.

Wattum and her twin sister, Birdie, have since withdrawn from UAF and temporarily moved to California to live with family and heal from the incident, Jessie said in an email on Dec. 7.

Birdie has since returned to Fairbanks and Jessie will be living with family in Palmer, according to a post on their mother Kate Wattum’s facebook page.

Campus police concluded an investigation into the case in October, passing the information to the district attorney with a suggested charge of sexual assault in the second degree. The DA declined to prosecute.

While Wattum and her sister are currently living in California, she expressed a desire to eventually return to UAF. This conclusion concerns her, however.

“I have to deal with seeing him, and it really showed me how much UAF cares about their rape victims,” Wattum said in her KUAC interview.

While the investigation has been concluded, both students involved still have the opportunity to appeal the results, according to UAF spokeswoman Marmian Grimes.

While this case triggered public outcry among the student community, including protests, UA Regent and Title IX chair John Davies says that UAF followed the proper guidelines according the Title IX policies.

“There was an investigation, there was an adjudication and there were consequences,” Davies told KUAC. “And it’s my belief that all of those followed both our regent policies and national Title IX policies.”

Title IX is a section of the United States Education amendments of 1972, stating: “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

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2 Responses

  1. db cooper says:

    I wonder why UAF’s enrollment continues to decline?
    Instead of focusing on increasing enrollment 50%, perhaps we should focus on retainment through protecting students from sexual predators.

  2. db cooper says:

    I feel so much safer because it is a known alternative fact thst rapists don’t rape between 8 am and 10 pm

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