TCNJ president accused of mishandling sex assault case in Maine
EWING — The president of The College of New Jersey is under fire because she intervened in a sexual assault case at her previous school, overturning the accused male student's suspension.
There also was another sexual assault case during Kathryn Foster's tenure as president of University of Maine at Farmington in which a female student's claims were overturned upon appeal, according to a report in the Bangor Daily News.
The newspaper interviewed a female undergrad who said the the school's investigation into her sexual assault report in January 2018 dragged on for months. After a committee found the man responsible and issued him a two-year suspension, Foster overturned both the committee's findings and the suspension.
At the time, the Maine school's student conduct code gave the president authority to step in, and Foster wrote in her decision that she had “reviewed all materials in the case file."
Responding to the accusations of the mishandled sexual assault case, Foster said she "took great care in fulfilling my role in the process."
Foster became the 16th president of TCNJ last summer.
“All of these cases are complex and difficult," her statement released on Thursday says. "Due to federal privacy laws and the fact that the case is currently the subject of a complaint before the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, I am unable to provide more detail."
TCNJ said that unlike the Maine school, its only Title IX policy does not grant the college president authority to hear an appeal on sexual assault cases. Title IX is the federal law that sets out how schools should respond to reports of sexual violence. According to the TCNJ policy, appeals are heard by the vice president of student affairs.
After the report about overturned sexual assault case findings, the interim president of Maine University Farmington has said the school will make changes, including a search for a new vice president for student affairs with “extensive experience in Title IX issues."
Eric Brown said he was "personally moved and saddened" by the article, but did not admit any wrongdoing on administration's part at the Maine school.
TCNJ is a public university with 6,580 full-time students. UMF is a public university with 1,600 full-time students.
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