The St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees today released the findings of an investigation into the facts surrounding the April 18, 2013, assault of a female student at the college’s Meramec campus.
At the direction of the board, the investigation addressed the following areas of concern:
1. The facts and timeline regarding the assault and the events that followed.
2. Whether the assailant, also a student enrolled at Meramec, had any history of problems at STLCC.
3. Why the police released the assailant shortly after apprehending him.
4. How the assailant came to be back on campus on April 23, 2013.
5. When the campus was notified of the assault and why the notice was delayed.
6. When responsible parties within STLCC knew about the assault, what they did in response to that information, and their respective roles in the mishandling of the assault.
The investigation, conducted by the law firm of Armstrong Teasdale, LLP, included the analysis of thousands of emails, reports and other documents related to the assault, along with materials from the Meramec Campus Police department, and cell phone and office telephone records of persons under scrutiny. The investigators interviewed 25 witnesses from the STLCC district and campus administration, police and communications functions. In addition, the investigators consulted with an experienced detective, Robert Thomure, retired from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, regarding proper police practice and procedures.
The investigation concluded that the mischaracterization and mishandling by STLCC of the assault was the result of “system-wide failures of campus and district law enforcement, administration and communications, which resulted in an unnecessary threat to the campus from an individual who should have remained in custody rather than being allowed to roam free after the commission of a major felony. A secondary, but equally important cause of the mishandling of the assault was a lack in leadership and management from key personnel at the district and campus levels.”
Board Chair Craig Larson said: “From the perspective of the Board of Trustees, the most disappointing aspect of this report is that so many individuals who could have made a difference throughout this terrible event simply did not act, did not seize control of a bad situation. The board feels very strongly that the college must create an environment in which administrators, faculty and staff have a clear knowledge of their personal responsibilities, of their authority to act and the understanding that they are accountable to the board, students and the community. Certainly this applies to matters relating to safety, but it really applies to everything that we do at the college.”
Larson said that the board has reviewed and accepted the findings of the investigation and has directed the college administration to implement the recommended changes to ensure a safe environment for students, faculty and staff, and to create a strong culture of open communications throughout the college community.
Larson also reported that he had been in contact with the victim and her family to offer an official apology from the trustees and the college, and share the results of the investigation.
“We have offered our student the full support and the resources of the college to assist her in attaining her educational goals,” he said.
Larson also recognized the personal courage of instructor Aurora Hill, who interrupted the assault and held the assailant until the campus police arrived.
A copy of the report can be downloaded at www.stlcc.edu/Document_Library/CC/investigation-report.pdf.
Established in 1962, St. Louis Community College is the largest community college district in Missouri and one of the largest in the United States. STLCC has four campuses – Florissant Valley, Forest Park, Meramec and Wildwood – that annually serve more than 81,000 students through credit courses, continuing education and workforce development programs. For more information about STLCC, visit www.stlcc.edu.