Alleged victim's mother prompts Iowa to look at response
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa's Board of Regents will meet Tuesday to discuss letters sent by a mother who accused the University of Iowa of mishandling its response to her daughter's allegations of being sexually assaulted by two football players.
In two letters sent to school president Sally Mason, the mother accused officials of encouraging her daughter, an Iowa athlete herself, to pursue resolution "informally" and within the athletic department. She said the family was told that it would be faster than the "arduous" process of involving police. The family eventually went to the police.
A copy of the first letter, sent in November 2007, was recently provided to the Iowa City Press-Citizen by the mother. Officials declined to release a copy of the second letter, which was sent in May.
Abe Satterfield and Cedric Everson, who have left the football team, are accused of sexually assaulting the woman on Oct. 14, 2007, at a campus dorm. Everson has been charged with second-degree sexual assault and Satterfield has been charged with second- and third-degree sexual assault. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Last month, the board said its investigation showed the university appropriately handled the allegations.
Regents president David Miles said he learned of the letters on Friday. He said part of the discussion Tuesday will be about why the regents didn't know about them before.
"I was shocked that we were not told about them sooner," Miles told The Associated Press.
"It means that we don't have the answer yet. It doesn't mean they did not handle it properly ... what it means is a report that we thought took into account all of the information, was based on incomplete information, so we have additional work to do," Miles said.
The mother said her daughter met with athletic department officials including athletic director Gary Barta, associate athletic director Fred Mims, football coach Kirk Ferentz and Betsy Altmaier, a university faculty member who serves as liaison to the Big Ten and NCAA. The athlete also met with her own coach.
"I believe that the university did not handle this situation in a professional way that followed university protocol and compliance to its own rules set out in the code of student conduct," the mother said in the November letter.
In a telephone interview with the Press-Citizen, she said: "We were told the school will take care of it. 'We will keep it in-house. We will be swift. We will be just, and you don't have to worry about it.'"
E-mails and telephone messages left Monday for Barta, Ferentz and Mims were not immediately returned.
The university released a statement saying it had compassion for the alleged victim and her family. But it also said: "At all times, she and her family had the ability to determine whether to pursue this matter within the university or outside of it, and we repeatedly informed them of those options."
The university said it "fully supported" the student's decision to file a criminal report.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press