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Idaho Admits to Mishandling Assault Case

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Copyright 2018 Spokane Spokesman-Review

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA)

 

The University of Idaho athletic department violated federal Title IX guidelines and university policy in handling complaints of sexual assault and harassment involving a football player in April 2013.

Diver Mairin Jameson and distance runner Maggie Miller reported six instances of harassment by wide receiver Jahrie Level to Moscow Police and members of the university's athletic department staff. Miller reported verbal harassment on April 8; Jameson accused Level of sexual assault, verbal harassment and unwanted physical contact on April 23.

Jameson detailed her experience on a friend's Tumblr blog on Jan. 30, 2018, which sparked an Idaho Statesman examination of how her case was handled.

The athletic department mishandled the initial reports from the women. The dean of students office should have been notified so Title IX investigations independent of the police could begin as required in cases of sexual harassment or violence. There's no indication that happened in Miller's case, and Athletic Director Rob Spear admitted it didn't happen in Jameson's case.

Other missteps included:

Miller told Moscow Police and football head coach Paul Petrino that Level threatened to slap her in the training room. Petrino doesn't remember that conversation, he said, but it's reflected in the police report generated that day. Spear says he was never informed of that incident.

Jameson was told in a meeting led by Spear that the university couldn't investigate her assault because it happened off campus, she said. Spear says he operated under an outdated university policy that didn't include off-campus incidents. The Department of Education released extensive Title IX guidance in 2011 that clarified universities' obligation to investigate off-campus incidents of sexual harassment or assault. Idaho changed its policy in March 2012 to comply - more than a year before Jameson's case. Also, some of the alleged harassment occurred on campus.

Spear wrote in an email to Jameson's parents after the assault that Level was "not a threat" but also indicated that he'd told Petrino to keep him away from the school's female athletes.

Level was dismissed from the team 16 days after Jameson's accusation, after Moscow Police Lt. Dave Lehmitz found surveillance video that corroborated Jameson's assault complaint and determined he could cite Level for misdemeanor battery. But Jameson wasn't told of Level's fate for several weeks, she said. During that time, she considered transferring to another school to get away from him.

Spear, Petrino and swimming and diving coach Mark Sowa were told May 7, 2013, in a meeting with the university's legal counsel that they hadn't followed Title IX guidance with Jameson's complaint, Spear said. He didn't tell Jameson that, or apologize, until Feb. 13, 2018 - nearly five years later.

Jameson, a former youth gymnast, decided to go public in the wake of the #metoo movement and the sexual-abuse case involving former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

The university was required by Title IX law and guidelines to promptly investigate the reports from Jameson and Miller, take immediate steps to prevent any further harassment or assault, and help them deal with any effects from the harassment.

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March 9, 2018
 
 
 

 

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