No charges to be issued in sexual assault cases

After months of speculation, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Thursday no charges will be issued against Marquette University student athletes regarding their involvement in two alleged sexual assault incidents that occurred this past October and February.

Although the student athletes were not charged, Chisholm said the alleged incidents were not reported correctly by the University’s Department of Public Safety, and thus immediate investigations did not occur.

In the first incident, which occurred last October, a female student reported to DPS that she was sexually assaulted by several male University student athletes in Humphrey Hall. At the time, DPS did not report the incident to the Milwaukee Police Department, who did not get involved until March.

Similarly, the second case, in February, involved a female student who reported a male student athlete sexually assaulted her. Again, DPS did not notify MPD and the female student reported the accusation to MPD on her own four weeks after it allegedly occurred.

In a statement, Chisholm said because DPS is a private security licensee and not a sworn police force, it is obligated to report crimes to the Milwaukee Police Department regardless of what might be desired by a victim.

He also said because DPS did not follow the proper procedure in reporting the incidents, no corroborative evidence could be collected and no proper investigation could occur.

“When the proper procedure is not followed it prevents an untainted interview with any suspect,” he stated. “… it provides an opportunity for the individuals allegedly involved as suspects or witnesses to compare recollections regarding the circumstances of the alleged misconduct.”

Dr. Stephanie Quade, Marquette’s dean of students, said the reason the incidents were not reported was because the University’s policy on sexual assault at the time was more “victim-centered.”

“We’ve tried to work with the victim and allow the victim to inform the Milwaukee police in his or her own time,” Quade said in an interview with WISN 12 News.

In an issued statement, Quade said the University is not proud of the incidents or the way in which they were handled. She said there were some “blunt and direct” conversations within the University and that it already initiated meetings with the District Attorney, MPD and on-campus and community advocates.

“We want to send a strong message to everyone that our students — perhaps especially our student athletes who have such a public profile — must respect one another and their fellow students, especially young women,” she said.

Since March, when the incidents were brought to MPD’s attention, the University has changed its policy on sexual assault cases.

Chisholm stated that DPS instituted a protocol with MPD to directly notify the department’s Sensitive Crime Unit whenever an alleged sexual assault occurs. He also stated the University plans on encouraging victims to use services by the Sexual Assault Treatment Center at Sinai Samaritan Medical Center.

“…I am confident the professionals of this community will emerge from these incidents by responding to college sexual violence in a more assertive and cohesive fashion,” he said in the statement.

Milwaukee Chief of Police Edward Flynn echoed Chisholm’s words, stating that MPD met with the University and DPS to ensure a lapse between the reporting of a crime and its investigation never occurs again.

“Marquette University has pledged to do better,” Flynn said. “We will hold them to their word.”