University policy outlines sexual misconduct consequences

Cyrus Nuval
News Editor

The three men’s soccer players who were charged with felonies last week could face further punishment from the university under its sexual misconduct policy.

VCU’s student sexual misconduct policy states that if a student is found guilty of a sexual misconduct by the University Hearing Board the student is sanctioned by the university. A student’s case or sanction can be reviewed by a University Appeal Board if he or she believes he is innocent or the sanction given to him was unfair.

According to the student sexual misconduct policy, sexual misconduct offenses are offenses that include, but are not limited to, sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact and sexual exploitation.

The policy also states that sanctions for sexual misconduct offenses include censure, probation, loss of privileges, fines, bans and holds, restitution to the victim, a university issued restraining order, suspension or expulsion.

Jacqueline Kniska, a VCU integrity and compliance officer, said all students, regardless of their offenses or the sanctions placed upon them, are allowed to appeal to the University Appeal Board to have their case or sanction reviewed as stated in the University’s Equal Opportunity Policy.

“This is always an option for individuals,” Kniska said. “All processes and opportunities for the accused and the accuser are applied equally.”

Wanda Mitchell, the vice president of Inclusive Excellence, said all sexual misconduct cases are investigated by the Division of Inclusive Excellence for the University Hearing Board and the University Appeal Board.

Mitchell said the division’s investigative process include intaking of inquiries and complaints, investigation of facts, interpretation of VCU’s anti-discriminatory policy and writing of the factual findings on internal complaints.

Mitchell said the division has 60 days to complete the case and submit their findings to the University Hearing Board or the University Appeal Board.

“Once the report is written and the factual findings are noted, management is informed and resolutions are put in place for founded complaints,” Mitchell said.

The VCU Police Department is also involved in sexual misconduct cases that are violations of State and Federal law. VCU PD provide arrests, victim assistance, responses to imminent safety risks, prepares legal charges and refers violations to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office. VCU PD also refer the violations to the Division of Inclusive Excellence for investigation.

 

“In summary, VCU uses a team based approach,” Mitchell said. “The Division for Inclusive Excellence, Office of Institutional Equity, Division for Student Affairs, University Police, Athletics, Human Resources, and General Counsel work together to ensure that all incidents of gender inequity, sexual misconduct, violence … and harassment are addressed to ensure that VCU is a safe and welcoming environment that is free of gender discrimination and sexual violence.”

Freshmen soccer players (from left to right) Finnlay Wyatt, Donovan Arias and Bobby Hopper are facing jail time and heavy fines for capturing a nonconsenting minor in the nude on tape. Photos courtesy of VCU Athletics and Richmond PD.

Jail time, heavy fines, university discipline possible

Liz Butterfield
Online News Editor

Colin Kennedy
Sports Editor

Three VCU men’s soccer players accused of capturing a nonconsenting minor in the nude on camera are facing jail time and heavy fines after a Grand Jury indicted them on felony charges earlier this month.

Donovan Arias, Finnlay Wyatt and Bobby Hopper, all freshmen, are facing class-six felony charges for an incident that occurred on Nov. 2, 2013. The three were formally charged by a Richmond Grand Jury earlier this month. Their scheduled arraignment on Feb. 7 was continued until a later date, according to court records.

The students were also suspended from the soccer team and VCU is conducting an internal investigation, said VCU spokesperson Anne Buckley.

A former teammate of Wyatt’s who wished to remain anonymous said Wyatt and Hopper took a video of a 17-year-old girl who was nude at a party. Arias, who is roommates with both Wyatt and Hopper, also attended the party.

Rumors of the video spread throughout their dormitory and a resident assistant later contacted police, the former teammate said. The students allegedly did not know the girl was a minor, the former teammate said.

Under Virginia law, the unlawful filming, videotaping or photographing of a minor is a Class 6 felony. If found guilty, the students could face up to five years in jail or pay up to $2,500.

“I think somebody was trying to play a prank on a suitemate, and what I hear is a young girl was filmed,” said Arias’ attorney John W. Luxton, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Bill Dinkin, Wyatt’s attorney, said he was recently retained by his client and could not clarify details surrounding the case. He refused to make any further further comment.

No record of the incident was reported by VCU Police Department in its daily incident log.

“While the cases work their way through the criminal justice system, VCU is pursuing internal investigations from both a student code of conduct standpoint and through federal Title IX avenues,” Buckley said in a statement. “Because of the ongoing internal investigation and court proceedings, we cannot comment further on this matter until it is adjudicated, except to say that VCU remains committed to an environment free of intimidation, harassment and discrimination.”

VCU student-athletes must abide by a supplemental code of conduct in addition to the VCU Code of Ethics,  VCU Athletics’ Drug and Alcohol Policy and NCAA rules.

Violations of the code by student-athletes are usually dealt with privately, said VCU Athletics spokesperson Scott Day.

Disciplinary sanctions are conducted “independent of, and supplements of the university judicial process,” according to the code. It is the athletics director’s responsibility to verify accusations and follow through with sanctions for accused athletes.

Any act of hazing is specifically prohibited in the code, as well as disrespect, poor sportsmanship, gambling or bribery, poor academic performance and any other conduct unbecoming of a VCU student-athlete.

“It’s definitely right to be reported … we shouldn’t be covering up for those people,” said Dylan Boyer, a freshman sociology major. “I’m glad this was reported at all because something like this could have been swept up under the rug.”

The three students have not been removed from the VCU Athletics soccer roster. Hopper, a business student, is from Atlanta. He has no prior criminal record, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. Arias, a criminal justice major, is from Fairfax, Va. He was convicted of trespassing on church or school property in March 2013, according to Fairfax County General District Court records. Wyatt is from Midlothian, Va. He was fined for speeding  in 2013, according to Chesterfield County General District Court records.

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