Posts Tagged ‘Morgan Harrington’

College Justice Falls Short For Sexual Assault Victims

October 8, 2010 Comments off

College Justice Falls Short For Sexual Assault Victims

Margaux walked the campus at Indiana University scared. She was startled if she saw someone who resembled the classmate she said raped her.

One month before, she’d come back to her dorm drunk. She said a man who lived down the hall came into her room and raped her as she passed in and out of consciousness. The man said the sex was consensual.

Now Margaux and that man were called together to attend a campus judicial hearing. She’d asked local police to prosecute, but when they refused Margaux was left to rely on the the college justice system.

On a college campus, this isn’t a formal legal process like a court of law. Instead it fell to two campus administrators to sort out the truth, simply by asking the accused and the accuser for their sides of the story.

The hearing quickly turned chaotic. Margaux was in one room, talking via a speaker phone. The man and his father were in a room on another floor; they started calling Margaux names.

“It was just a shouting match,” she remembers. “He called me a slut. And his dad, who’s not supposed to speak, starts talking and saying, ‘These college girls have one-night stands all the time.’ ”

Documents from Indiana University and a later federal investigation of Margaux’s case show that the accused man had left a trail of trouble. Another woman said he’d tried to rape her in her bed, but she fought him off. She did not report those incidents to campus police. But she did send an e-mail to Margaux, who passed along the information to campus officials. When they asked the woman to come to the hearing, she declined. Still, the man, a freshman, like Margaux, was known to campus police. He’d been arrested and charged with a felony for beating up a male student.

After the hearing ended, Margaux waited in the room with the speaker phone. An hour later, the hearing officer came to explain.

“So the door opens, he comes in, he sits on one side of me,” says Margaux. “I remember him saying — and he used the word ‘rape’ — and he said, ‘I know that he raped you,’ and then he went back on what he said. He said, ‘I believe you, I know that that happened.’ ”

The campus official told Margaux that the man had been found responsible for an offense called “inappropriate sexual conduct” while the two of them were drunk.

Campus disciplinary procedures are run by educators, not by lawyers. And educators tend to think less in terms of justice — and look for what they call teachable moments.

Documents from Indiana University show that the man Margaux accused continued to insist the sex was consensual. But he did admit to having a drinking problem.

And that was a teachable moment for the hearing officer. Margaux remembers: “He tells me that my rapist was crying and admitting that he’s an alcoholic. And I remember him saying ‘I think we really made a breakthrough.’ ”

As a result, the punishment was light. It was already finals week of spring term. The man was suspended through the summer semester. He was told he could return in the fall if he stayed away from Margaux and got counseling and alcohol treatment.

A History Of Slaps On The Wrist

Most men found responsible for campus sexual assault get only mild punishment. Reporters at the Center for Public Integrity obtained a database of about 130 colleges and universities that got federal grants because they wanted to do a better job dealing with sexual assault. Even when men at those schools were found responsible for sexual assault, only 10 to 25 percent were expelled.

Margaux expected the man she accused to be expelled.

“Of course the sentence was weak and horrible,” she says. “But the fact that I had to sit there and listen to this guy tell me that he was feeling bad for the guy who just raped me, not only raped me but was completely unapologetic. And he what, he breaks down, and cries and this guy is telling me how bad, he’s telling me how bad he feels for the guy who just raped me. I mean it’s just, that’s really just broke me down the most. It just made me feel really defeated, which I was already feeling defeated.”

A few days later, a dean overrode the hearing officers and extended the suspension to last one full year.

Still, Margaux couldn’t stand the thought that she’d be on the same campus again with the man. So, like large numbers of women who take sexual assault charges to campus judicial hearings, she dropped out of school.

“This was a purely predatory crime,” says Margaux’s mother. A man waiting in the wee hours of the night for a woman to come in who he could overpower. And that’s exactly what he did. You believe the victim and you’re going to suspend him and force this victim to look for another school? It’s unfathomable.”

A Last Resort

Margaux’s family took another route that’s available to women, but rarely used. They filed a request for the U.S. Department of Education to investigate Indiana University for violating Title IX, based on the way it handled the sexual assault.

Title IX is commonly known as the federal law that requires equality in men’s and women’s sports teams. But the law is broader than that: It says that any school that takes federal funding cannot discriminate against women. And that means putting an end to sexual harassment.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation. Margaux argued that it created a “hostile environment” for her to be on the same campus as the man who’d been found responsible for assaulting her. But in April 2009, the department concluded that Indiana University did not need to expel the man.

Between 1998 and 2008, the Office for Civil Rights ruled against just five universities — out of 24 resolved complaints. There were no punishments — just orders to universities to improve their disciplinary procedures. That’s according to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

Once Margaux learned that the college ruling meant that she would still have to attend Indiana University with her assailant, she dropped out of school.

Three years after her assault, Margaux reflects on the process experienced by victims of sexual assault.

Now, all Margaux has left is that punishment handed down in her IU proceeding — or, as she puts it, the “kangaroo trial with a kangaroo sanction.”

Seeking Justice For Campus Rapes

One out of 4 women will be sexually assaulted while attending college. Ninety-five percent of assaults ARE NOT reported. Despite federal laws created to protect students, colleges and universities have failed to protect women from this epidemic of sexual assault. Even after assailants have been found responsible for sexual assault, students are rarely expelled or suspended.
Many, many universities and colleges not only harbor rapists, but also completely disregards, ignores and fails women. Lack of reporting assaults under The Jeanne Clery Act and Title IX must clearly be punishable and better compliance structure must be amp’d up. Reporting is not being done by administration as they fear losing federal funding, fined and tainting a school’s reputation. This is no excuse!
Students attending and those considering a university or college deserve and have the right to know how their school ranks. Truthfully. And, should a crime be committed and reported the student body deserves to be notified as per The Jeanne Clery Act and Title IX guidelines.

Victimization does not discriminate and every assault must be reported, charges filed and brought before the courts. Do not allow any administration member(s) or campus police department to sway you – you are your only true Advocate. Know the policy and procedure of the school for reporting crime, report the crime and file charges with the “campus sworn officers” as well as with the city/town police department. Do not sign, agree or allow anyone to twist your words, be sure that your reports that you sign is clear and concise. Seek only an advocate (Rape Crisis or Domestic Violence) from the local agencies within the school’s county. Seek assistance and help from outside sources rather than campus advocates (peer counselors who attend the school and faculty advocates who work for the school).

College Crime Ranking/Assaults as of September 14, 2010 reported:
25 campuses have experienced the most assaults over the past three calendar years on a per student basis.
Tufts University, 119; University of Maryland-Baltimore, 57; Harvard University, 170; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 225; Tulane University of Louisiana, 56; Johnson & Wales University, 47; Morehead State University, 36; Lesley University, 25; North Carolina Central University, 32; University of Illinois at Chicago, 100; Fitchburg State College, 25; Buffalo State College, 40; New Jersey Institute of Technology, 30; Illinois Institute of Technology, 25; University of Baltimore, 20; University of Massachusetts-Darmouth, 29; North Carolina A & T State University, 33; Vanderbilt University, 38; University of Hartford, 21; Columbia University in the City of New York, 70; University of Massachusetts-Lowell, 39; Western Kentucky University, 57; Coastal Carolina University, 23; Temple University, 97, University of California-Santa Barbara, 60
Take care and STAY SAFE!

UVA Violated The Jeanne Clery Act AND Failed To Report Another Sex Crime

October 6, 2010 1 comment

UVA Violated The Jeanne Clery Act AND Failed To Report Another Sex Crime

Charlottesville, VA– Late Tuesday evening, prompted by questions by the Editor In Chief of about a recent rape which occurred at the DZ sorority on Chancellor Street, The University of Virginia sent out an alert to students.

However, as required of UVA by the Clery Act, the alert was 10 days late. Charlottesville Police recorded a police report of a forcible rape on September 17, 2010.

The Jeanne Clery Act, founded by her parents, Howard and Connie Clery, is a Federal Law applicable to all Higher Learning Institutions that participate in Federal funding assistance which requires mandatory reporting for specified crimes.

Constance and Howard Clery founders of Security ON Campus, Inc. after their 19 year old daughter Jeanne was brutally raped, tortured and murdered while sleeping in her dorm on April 5, 1986.

Fellow Lehigh University co-eds propped 3 different doors open, in violation of security rules, unknowingly allowing her killer access.

The bill which became a Federal law, was based on the fact that 38 different violent offenses occurred at Lehigh U that the student body was never made aware of prior to Clery’s murder. Had they been, it is almost certain not only would the automatic locking doors have been inaccessible, but parents and students combined would have demanded security upgrades to prevent such a heinous event.

Following the email that went to 23,000 students at 11:01 PM September 28, Allen Groves, Dean of Students, and Lt. Melissa Fielding of the University Police Department, held an impromptu press conference Wednesday, as a follow up to the email alert with some additional background information.



Time line Breakdown

9–17 1:15am UVA student attacked from behind, raped and beaten on Delta Zeta House, Chancellor Street.

9-17 Noon- Email Equivalent to “Whisper Down the Rotunda” Begins:

Received a third party email, NOT from the victim, indicating a stranger attack had occurred to a sister, as previously reported at, at DZ House on Chancellor St.  We forwarded that on to our endless list of associate deans. They called the Sorority president for more  information so that we might begin “acting upon it”.

9–18 Additional Sexual Assault Occurs At Fraternity on Madison Lane 3AM

*Unreported To Students To Date*

9–18 A Robbery Occurs During the Course of Above, Same Frat 3AM

*Unreported To Students To Date*

9–19 A Breaking And Entering Occurs, Undisclosed Sorority House, Chancellor St

*Unreported To Students To Date*

9-20 Associate Dean reaches out directly to the victim to ..”get the details of the attack and also to assist the student. No contact made with victim.

9–20 Associate Deans Office receives call from a female student’s Mother that her daughter was nearly sexually assaulted in a pantry at a Fraternity party at approximately midnight, September 18. Add additionally, Groves speaks to a man claiming to be assaulted due to his sexual preference, which would be considered a hate crime, also reportable under the Clery Act. According to Groves and Fielding no police report has been filed. (Editors Note: If this took place at the same “undisclosed frat” as the 3am forcible fondling and robbery incidents– Is this the same perp? So he never fled the scene? So, we have 2 incidents that have Charlottesville PD police reports, one of a sex crime in nature, and an additional attempted sex crime reported directly to administration on 9/20 within a three hour span, at either the same fraternity, or a neighboring one, and it takes 8 days to notify anyone, and they still have not interviewed anyone at the “undisclosed” frat regarding the incidents?

9-21 Internal Meeting about the 9/17 forcible rape but to UVA, they are  “unclear” sex assault occurs, still no contact with, or direct information with the victim. ( Editors Note: Groves says Charlottesville PD has still not classified the incident as a sex assault. (Editors Note: This is ludicrous and utter bs. The report specifically states “forcible rape”.  I can tell you as an absolute fact, that members of the sorority AS WELL AS the other sororities on Chancellor sent emails back and forth to alert each other which specifically included details of the assault).

9-21 Associate Dean contacts Cville PD. Was told .. Yes, investigating the incident, but would not be in a position to disclose whether there had been an assault or sexual assault  also, at that point. We then conferred with the university police to see if there was anything they could tell us so that we could determine whether or not a sex assault occurred in that setting.

9-23 Sorority Meeting held, without the victim, to discuss outreach opportunities.

9-27 First time Associate dean heard directly from the victim in response to the outreach efforts, first time she was in a position to come forward (out of hospital). Victim had to cancel and has rescheduled.

9-28 “.. Certainly by last evening… after conferring with Lt. Fielding and others I felt we had enough information.. Even though to my knowledge Charlottesville Police have not classified this as a sexual assault..”  but we believe we had enough, even though it was not our investigation, it was Charlottesville Police responsibility to alert..” (Editors Note: Not a syllable about the email I sent to Ms. Wood, who was unaware of the incident, and very responsive to me. The alert went out at 11:01 PM, 45 minutes after our article regarding same, was published. In this editors opinion, there were no plans whatsoever to alert students until I requested a comment, specifying it was to be included in the piece we were finishing regarding the fact that the rape had not yet been disclosed as an alert, as required by the Clery Act.  This was done to balance what was certain to be seen as a scandalous announcement in the wake of Morgan Harrington and Yeardley Love murders, and days after the University’s “Day of Dialogue.”  I felt they should certainly be offered an opportunity to address the issue from their perspective, the email was their response to that invitation).

Clearly A Clery Violation… Again

The Articles for reporting within the Clery Act are unambiguous. While I understand the need to alert students and parents with credible and useful information, this is not for UVA officials to decide unilaterally. In fact, it is not for them to ever need to “corroborate” or interview a victim regarding the details of any crime committed against them as identified in the Clery Act for UVA to observe the requirements of them under the Federal law.

In short, they have their own police. They have their “online form”. They have Charlottesville PD police report direct feed.

In 2004, The Board of Education found that UVA violated the Clery Act by requiring a rape victim to sign a confidentiality agreement, but gave them a pass by not imposing sanctions because there was some confusion as to the reporting rules and protocol. UVA was informed they will be assessed a $27,500 sanction fee for any future violations.

As I am certain many of you are over my bloviations about the subject, and in the interest of disclosure, I have personal ties to Lehigh University.

Also in the interest of disclosure, I am embarrassed to say that I was not aware that Ms. Clery’s murder occurred there until researching the Clery Act.

Some Posts from members of your local community for consumption, I will be updating poignant comments. Poster Starbucks:

Regarding the “off grounds” issue, I’m sorry but I find University’s excuses in this area ludicrous and totally disingenuous.

The Clery Act, passed in 1990, unambiguously provides that its reporting requirements are not limited to crimes occurring on campus/”Grounds.” The University has had twenty years to figure out how to comply with this law, and yet its officials act as dumbfounded as ever. One would think that UVA is the only school in the nation with a significant portion of its student body living off campus/Grounds, but in close proximity to the University. Of course, this situation is commonplace.

If UVA is having such a difficult time dealing with the “off grounds” issue, I suggest that President Sullivan get in contact with the appropriate officials at her previous institutions. Sullivan spent most of her career at the University of Texas where 80% of its undergraduate student body lives off campus, as opposed to 57% at UVA. She then spent about four years at the University of Michigan where 37% of its undergraduates live off campus. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here; if UVA officials can’t figure out how to report crimes occurring near its campus, they should go study how other universities are dealing with this perplexing problem.

The implication that there is no communication between the Charlottesville Police and the UVA police/campus officials simply stretches the bounds of credulity.

UVA is required by the Clery Act to provide:

(C) A statement of current policies concerning campus law enforcement, including—

(ii) the working relationship of campus security personnel with State and local law enforcement agencies, including whether the institution has agreements with such agencies, such as written memoranda of understanding, for the investigation of alleged criminal offenses; and

(iii) policies which encourage accurate and prompt reporting of all crimes to the campus police and the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

I can’t seem to find UVA’s policies in this area. I challenge the University to prominently publish all of the required Clery Act policy statements on its website.

UVA is on notice:

“This determination finds that the University violated the Clery Act. However, as was noted in our July 2004 Final Determination in another case, there was apparent confusion in the higher education community regarding the intersection of the disclosure requirement under the Clery Act and the strictures of FERPA. For this reason, the Department will not impose any fines or other sanctions at this time. However, UVA is advised that any subsequent violations of the Clery Act will result in a referral for the imposition of a civil penalty up to $27,500 per infraction.”

So please UVA, stop the excuses and clean up your act now.

Respectfully submitted via BlinkOnCrime

Madeline Tanner, Elizabeth Morton, contributing editors

Morgan Harrington’s Murder: A Security Check On Security- Why Did It Fail?

July 22, 2010 2 comments

Morgan Harrington’s Murder: A Security Check On Security- Why Did It Fail?

Via BlinkOnCrime

Charlottesville, VA-

On the afternoon of October 17, 2009, Morgan Harrington and three of her friends drove to John Paul Jones Arena, located on the University of Virginia campus, to attend a long-anticipated Metallica concert. Following an apparent fall and chin injury occurring around the time she was visiting the ladies room, Morgan ended up outside the arena and attempted to gain re-entry to the venue.

How and why she got there comes in at a baffling second only compared to what happened to her next.  Morgan went missing the evening of October 17, 2009; January 26, 2010 Morgan’s body was found on Anchorage Farm located in Albemarle County.  The cause of her death has not be released, her manner of death has been classified as homicide by the VA State Police.

Gil Harrington’s has made it clear that her family’s mission is to prevent what happened to Morgan from happening to another victim and their goal is to educate young women about safety and personal security.

As our very vulnerable student body returns to campus next month, provides a glimpse at current conditions.

Unregulated Regulations In Security

The 2004 General Assembly, through House Joint Resolution (HJR122), requested the Virginia State Crime Commission to study safety at Virginia’s institutions of higher education. As a result, DCJS created the Office of Campus Policing and Security (OCPS) to address the law requiring minimum training and employment standards for campus security officers.

Campus Security Regulations for Institutions of Higher Education in the State of Virginia, fall under the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Private Security Services Advisory Board. Below is an excerpt of the unapproved draft meeting notes of their quarterly meeting held December 8, 2009; the first and only since Morgan’s disappearance from JPJ.

The issue of safety and security on college campuses was addressed in a 2006 Crime Commission Study on Campus Safety. This study resulted in the statutory requirements under Code of Virginia (Code) §9.1-102 (49).

College populations represent a large concentration of students between the ages of 18-25 years with limited supervision and life experience. In terms of homeland security, campuses are identified as “soft targets” and are frequently targeted by domestic and foreign terrorists. Campuses also house volatile materials and research facilities that are also targeted by radical elements in society. Campuses host large stadium events and concerts that are potential targets for terrorism and riots. Most campuses also have facilities that are open to the public and are relatively difficult to secure and lockdown.   Campus Security Officers are primary first responders to incidents of crime and violence on campus.

Although UVA campus security officers require a certification provided by DCJS, there are ZERO regulatory standards for certification. It was NOT until Morgan Harrington disappeared from the grounds of the JPJ Arena that emergency regulations were sought from Governor Bob McDonnell.

How does a woman on the campus of a University that provides it’s very own Police Department in addition to event security simply vanish without a trace?

By the time Morgan ends up in a hay field 7 miles away, she has passed through 3 different law enforcement jurisdictions and a slew of private campus and event security agencies and personnel.  While private security regulations fall under the umbrella of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, they also require a judicial amendment only if and when they are approved via “emergency” status by the Governor.

Who’s Looking Out For The Kids, Exactly?

As the safety on campus study showed, our college age kids are at their most vulnerable in the University setting.  Out from under the watchful eye of Mom and Dad and wading through the rich culture and nightlife of downtown Charlottesville, students face a host of potential safety risks.

In fact, during the very development of this article, I received an alert from UVA security that a UVA student was sexually assaulted in the area of Roosevelt Boulevard. While I commend the swift response and warning from UVA PD chief Michael Gibson, I can’t help but wonder if a similar alert upon learning Morgan disappeared from the UVA/JPJ campus would have made a difference for her.

A simple Google of “Charlottesville security” produces the front page for HH Security Services, Inc, a local private security and bail bonding firm.  I am no expert but isn’t it a bit odd to claim to protect one’s security and then bond out someone that may threaten it in the first place?

Who is vetting the security that is responsible for ensuring safety?

While HH Security or it’s employees have no known ties whatsoever to the Harrington case, it is a prime example of the weakness of current security regulations, involving students and private events, 6 years in the making.

At H & H Security Services, Inc. we specialize in Private Investigation, Private Security both armed and unarmed as well as fast efficient Civil Process Service.  Our full-time professional agents are well trained, well equipped, well informed, and discreet.? Owner Rod Howard is a native of Charlottesville and central Virginia, where he’s been a well respected business owner for over twenty years. H & H Security Services, Inc. is his vehicle in his effort to help serve and protect the community he grew up in. Over the years he’s assembled a team of certified and experienced personnel who share his commitment to the safety of the community.

HH Security, in a business journal ad, claims to hire members of law enforcement and be very well connected with various police departments and security agencies for nightclubs, special events and home security checks as well in 2007.

HH Security is the security firm of choice for Club 216, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Rivals, which are bars frequently visited by UVA students and athletes.

Roderick M Howard, owner of HH Security and H&H Car detailing maintains active licenses issued through the VA Dept of Criminal Justice Services for private security and as a bailbondsman.

While blinkoncrime editors were researching this piece, a review of Albemarle County Court records show Roderick Howard was arrested for felony rape in 1993, subsequently indicted for same and a year later on the first day of trial, pled guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery whereby he was sentenced to 12 months, 11 of which were suspended and two years unsupervised probation. Howard was also arrested a few times for felony bad checks; both cases ended nolle prosequi.

How can an accused rapist and convicted sexual batterer hold a dual license in the private security sector as well as two classifications of firearms, all of which is monitored by the VADCJS? It is specifically stated in the regulations regarding moral turpitude AND sexual battery that the VADCJS MAY DENY an applicant on those grounds.

According to Mr. Howard’s own advertisement, he has been in the security industry since 1989. Would that mean he was employed in the security field when he was arrested for rape?

Shockingly, It may be perfectly legal. Although the administrative statute for licensure prohibits granting a license to someone with a misdemeanor sexual battery conviction, if Howard divulged the crime in his application and requested a waiver from the director at the time, it is possible one was granted. spoke to Lisa McGee, Regulatory Program Manager for DCJS, private security advisory committee:

“…there is a code in the statute that allows the potential for both an individual convicted of a felony and the outlined misdemeanors exceptions contained therein to obtain a director’s waiver. Two felonies we would never even consider are rape and murder, but dependent upon the criminal offense, the circumstances and the length of time that has transpired with a clean record, the verbiage in the statute would allow an applicant to at least request a waiver for our consideration…”  Lisa McGee

Ms. McGee was not able to address Mr. Howard’s file specifically, citing privacy laws, but she was able to verify that Mr. Howard’s registration with the agency is current.

There are however, some discrepancies in the press release written to announce the “restructuring” of both companies, announced October 19th.

For starters, there was only a name change to Mr. Howard’s business, which actually took place prior to the October 19 release date, in May, 2009.

These are not two separate businesses. In fact, the bailbondsman license issued to Mr. Howard’s agent, Anthony Halstead, leads back to Accelerated Bail Bonds, which is not a listed entity in the state of Virginia or listed as a fictitious name for H&H Security Services.

I would be willing to wager that the police departments that allow off duty security employment with this firm would appreciate some clarification on both the personnel and licensing issues.

There has been no arrest in the homicide of Morgan Harrington. In a statement released by Corrine Geller, PR manager for the Virginia State Police, VSP has received approximately 100 significant leads from the release of the sketch of the alleged perpetrator of the 2005 Fairfax County sex assault.

Dan and Gil Harrington will be meeting with new University of Virginia President, Teresa Sullivan, next month to address safety and security issues on campus.

“..People think it cannot happen to them, IT CAN– Dan Harrington.”

Editors Note: I am not a resident of Virginia. However, I think the interest of the safety of our children is a National one. Any person that is placed in a position of public trust, most especially those that come into contact with our vulnerable students, should be REQUIRED to disclose past convictions that would negate them that position without some sort of subjective “pass”.  How can we know-TRULY KNOW the level of presumed safety if we really aren’t aware of the backgrounds of those in charge of it? editors Jason Mateos, Elizabeth Morton and Madeline Tanner contributed to this report

Images by Klaasend

Respectfully submitted via BlinkOnCrime – thank you to all that continue to bring much needed attention and awareness to crimes on campuses and the lack of security for our young people.

Reminding Students New College & University Campus Safety Information Is Available Under Federal Clery Act – Check for updates in September, 2010…

“The Clery Act information provides students and families with an important starting point for evaluating campus safety,” added Jonathan Kassa, SOC’s Executive Director. “While differences in campus environments make a strict ranking system difficult, these disclosures make it possible to have a side-by-side comparison of the level of security provided by different institutions and to ask informed questions.”

Many institutions make their complete ASR available on their websites according to SOC. Crime statistics for each institution can be accessed via SOC’s website at

Please be sure to check out your college/university of choice.

Do not allow any college or university to “cover-up” any assault. Know your rights, follow-up on your reporting and PRESS CHARGES!  Do not allow anyone at any college or university to “hush” a report.  You do have options, know your rights!

And, research…know every aspect of the security in place for every function.  It’s your safety – you can only depend on yourself to be sure that you will remain safe.  There is nothing wrong with learning and knowing how to be YOUR OWN BODYGUARD.

Take care and STAY SAFE!