Post Classifieds

Get the facts

By Matt Coniglio
On September 5, 2012

This article is not about Dezmine Wells. His situation may be the reason for the article, but he is not the focus of this article itself. In case you've been living under a rock, a Hamilton County grand jury declined to indict former Xavier University student athlete Dez Wells on charges of sexual assault on
Tuesday of last week. To summarize the statement that the university released an hour later, "We don't care." It has become the "it" debate on campus, with students falling on both
sides of the issue. That being said, this shouldn't even be an issue for debate. The general public has no knowledge of the evidence presented by Dez Wells or his accuser,
in either the University Conduct Board, appeal board or grand jury proceedings. To comment on the actual case without any knowledge of it seems to be pretty asinine. Yet that hasn't stopped anyone from doing so until now. The only thing I am certain of at this point is that Dez Wells is not coming back to Xavier University. As unfortunate as that is, life will go on at this university. This high profile story has given the outside world a little bit more insight into how Xavier handles
allegations of sexual assault among students. It is concerning that this emerged a few months after the Office of Civil Rights opened an investigation to Xavier's handling of several alleged allegations of sexual assault involving former student Sean Marron. The investigation resulted in former Dean
of Students Luther Smith's reassignment (someone please explain why he wasn't fired) somewhere in the office of the provost and chief academic officer, led by Scott Chadwick. Although denying any wrongdoing as alleged by Caitlin Pinciotti, Kayln Burgio and Shawna Storey (who accused an unnamed male after her graduation in May 2009), Xavier agreed to amend policies related to sexual assault and released a
statement a month ago saying that it "has always taken allegations of sex discrimination, including harassment, assault and violence, very seriously." Yes, always, very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that Xavier has had no problem with brokering a deal between the accused and his accuser so that the university would stay out of the morning press. Last week, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters appeared on live radio and ripped the university for essentially hanging Wells out to dry. Deters explained that the grand jury heard all of the
evidence and wasn't interested in indicting Dez Wells based on an overwhelming lack of evidence. It appears now that Xavier's administration has gone from trying to cover up allegations of sexual assault to using the former student-athlete to show the Department of Education that it has all of a sudden changed its policies and they work perfectly now.
This is not to say that I believe that Dez Wells is one hundred percent innocent or guilty. The grand jury declining to indict him is a pretty good indication that there isn't any evidence of wrongdoing on his part, and that is good enough for me.
Don't be surprised when the Office of Civil Rights comes back to Xavier to investigate whether Dez's civil rights were violated in this case. If his attorney, Merlyn Shiverdecker, is correct in asserting that Xavier was "committed to the process and not the fairness of the outcome," this will cause another black eye to the university, one that could have been avoided by calculated, rational decision making. This will also not be the last sexual assault case at Xavier. While the university
vowed to amend their policies dealing with sexual assault, they should craft those policies in the interest of all students,
which include those accused of something as horrible as sexual assault, so that incidents like this do not become the norm. I would encourage the university to consult a professional with experience in this field (the prosecutor's office seemed more than willing) in order to avoid another disaster like this one. While that clearly conflicts with the Xavier model of "Sweep it under the rug to avoid a PR nightmare," maybe the university will begin to put the interests of all students at the head of their agenda.  

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