Students acquitted by HBSM

By Allie Mongan and Courtney Flagg

Writer and News Editor

Both students involved in an alleged sexual assault case on campus were found responsible for disorderly conduct but acquitted of all other charges by the University Hearing Board on Sexual Misconduct (HBSM) on Oct. 7.

The incident, reported earlier this fall, allegedly occurred Sept. 5 after 2 a.m., according to an HBSM summary released in an Oct. 8 e-mail from Kari Conrad, associate dean of students.

A 19-year-old female University student reported being sexually and physically assaulted by Reed Dempsey ’13, according to The Daily Item. Dempsey is a former member of The Bucknellian advertisement staff.

Dempsey was accused of taking the woman out of her bed by force, according to The Daily Item’s report. The woman sustained injuries to her face, right breast, thighs and wrists. The injuries were treated at Evangelical Hospital.

After the female student filed claims of sexual misconduct, disorderly conduct and harassment, the male filed claims of sexual misconduct, disorderly conduct, false accusations, physical assault and harassment, according to the HBSM summary. Dempsey had been suspended from class since the date of the incident, but attended classes via webcam. He and the female student involved received letters of censure and were placed in different residence halls. Reed’s suspension was removed.
The hearing with the University’s HBSM began Oct. 5. The woman attempted to postpone the hearing until after Nov. 4, when the preliminary hearing before District Judge Leo Armbruster for Dempsey will begin, according to The Daily Item. The hearing took place as scheduled.

The University HBSM consists of administrators, faculty and students, and board members for each case are chosen at random.
Hearings before the HBSM are held within 20 days of the filing date. The Code of Conduct states that both students are to be at the hearing, but the students do not have to address each other directly. After hearing both sides of the argument and all of the evidence, the board deliberates and decides on a verdict.

The Union County District Attorney D. Peter Johnson said that the testimonies and evidence brought out during the hearing could circumvent the procedure for sharing facts in the criminal case and give the accused an advantage, according to The Daily Item. U.S. Middle District Judge Yvette Kane denied the request to postpone the hearing because she believed the University’s procedures offer sufficient protection. It was ruled that Title IX, which holds schools accountable for discrimination based on gender, was not violated and the University has to move forward separate from the criminal case.

The female student also requested that the University let her submit written statements for her testimony at the HBSM on the eve of the testimony but was denied.

“In any alleged incident of student misconduct, the students referenced in the allegations are informed of their rights, the time for a hearing, and their responsibility to prepare for that hearing. They are re-informed at the time the hearing board is constituted of the date and time of the hearing,” said Wayne Bromfield, the University’s general counsel. “These practices are consistent with model practices at other universities and the requirement of the federal government’s Title IX regulations. In a recent case, an attorney for one of the students involved in the incident challenged the University’s procedures and the timing of the hearing in a federal district court. The Chief Judge of that court, Yvette Kane, found that challenge meritless and dismissed their request,” he said.

According to a press release issued Oct. 7 by Dempsey’s attorneys, Dempsey was acquitted of all sexual and assault charges leveled at him by the female accuser. The Board received testimony from both police and student witnesses.

The preliminary hearing will proceed Nov. 4, according to The Daily Item.

Conrad and Bromfield could not comment due to privacy laws surrounding the issue.

Dempsey declined to comment.

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