The Week in Mormonism, 4/17/16: BYU Honor Code Chilling Effects
Last week, BYU’s honor code office acknowledged that it follows up on reports of rape and sexual harassment to see if the victim violated the honor code during the assault. (BYU clarifies that being assaulted is not itself against the honor code, but action may be taken against students who are found to have been violating other policies at the time.)
The Salt Lake Tribune reports on the chilling effect this has on crime victims with stories from BYU students Madi Barney, Madeline MacDonald, “Emily,” and Brooke, who were investigated by the honor code office after being raped.
In Barney’s case, the case gets even stranger. Her honor code investigation was opened after Utah County sheriff’s Deputy Edwin Randolph gave BYU a copy of confidential police records. BYU has continued its investigation of Barney, and prevented her from enrolling in classes, despite the prosecutor’s office alerting the school the records are “paperwork that lawfully they shouldn’t have.”
Charges were filed against Randolph for retaliating against a witness. Prosecutors alleged “he knew that the victim in the case could receive disciplinary action based on the information contained within the report.” The charges were ultimately dismissed by Utah County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman, who said on Friday that “he sought the dismissal as a result of secret information… from an internal affairs investigation.”
Randolph himself said in a statement that “he intended that BYU investigate male students, particularly male athletes, who may have victimized women or otherwise violated BYU standards regarding sexual conduct.” It’s unclear how Randolph expected a report on a 39 year old accused rapist to help investigate student athletes.
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