Sexual Assault

Alleged sexual assault under investigation involving student and contracted employee

YORK, Pa. – A York College student was allegedly sexually assaulted and forcibly raped by a contracted employee of the campus inside the Northside Commons dormitory on the York College campus, according to the college’s crime log.

The student, whose name is being withheld by The Spartan Newspaper, was a minor when the alleged assault occurred. The student made the report Saturday, Oct. 29, according to the college’s crime log, of the offenses that occurred on Sept. 5.

The student posted videos on YouTube in which he described the incident while being held by the Campus Safety department of the college. In the video, the student said that if the incident was reported, the rapist would release the photos that the two had shared with each other, and he would get the student expelled.

The contracted employee was immediately removed from campus.

Students were informed of the report days later through a portal email sent Nov. 2 in which President Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith informed students of the alleged sexual assault after the student had posted information on social media regarding the incident. Gunter-Smith advised students to not speak to media, but stated that the student was under the care and supervision of parents.

Dean of Student Affairs Joseph Merkle confirmed that the student is no longer a student and no longer on campus.

In the video the student said, ”Following the incident I’ve been harassed by Campus Safety…they also said I would be pressed with trespassing charges if I come on campus, and I will have to speak with the dean if I want to return to campus.” The student stated that he had a hard time discussing the incident as he repeatedly closed his eyes. The student talked of having “panic attacks and nightmares and flashbacks over the incident that happened.”

York College’s spokesperson Mary Dolheimer said that the student was not being detained by Campus Safety; rather the student was being held in the department under the parent’s request because they had contacted the college with concerns about the well-being of the student.

In the video, a Campus Safety officer can be heard referencing Code 302, an involuntary commitment to admit a person for a psychiatric evaluation where the person who signs or calls for the action must have direct knowledge of the danger that the person admitted poses for themselves and others. “He has to actively be attempting to harm himself…at which point he is not doing that at this time…so I feel like if we run 302 we won’t have the grounds to have the hospital hold him,” said the officer.

It was confirmed by Dolheimer that the student was given on and off-campus resources and information to get help, report and file a crime. These resources of help include counseling and medical attention. The students receive a follow up from the college. Dolheimer did not know whether a follow up had been done on the student.

Students have the opportunity to change resident halls and adjust their class schedules.

There is a re-admittance policy requiring those who have withdrawn to re-apply to the institution. Dolheimer said that a person would be charged for trespassing if he or she were suspended or expelled; if there is no code of contact against a person, he or she can walk onto campus. A person would receive a Persona Non Grata document, a no-trespassing order.

Dolheimer said that this on-campus incident allows the college to “step back and reassess what we are doing.”

York College was recently the recipient of a grant from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) to help students who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. This $300,000 grant will be used towards the “It’s On Us” campaign on campus. “It really places the responsibility to prevent sexual assault on everyone,” said Dolheimer. A paid position would be created for a coordinator of sexual assault and education activities. Dolheimer believes this position will be beneficial, as the college will be able to “dedicate time, attention and focus on issues by having one person,” said Dolheimer.

The alleged sexual assault case is currently under investigation with the Spring Garden Township Police Department.

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