Curry College administrators waited nearly a week — until arrests were made — to notify the campus community of an alleged “group rape” of a student in a school dormitory last month.
The Milton college is now reviewing campus-notification procedures as well as policies for event security and campus visitors after what court documents characterized as a “group rape of a highly intoxicated college student” on Jan. 20.
The victim told the college about the attack on Jan. 22. Three men were arrested on Jan. 25, and a notice to the campus was sent out on Jan. 28.
“I’ve written to you today in an effort to share appropriate factual information while continuing to respect the privacy of the student who reported the alleged assault and the ongoing nature of the proceedings by external law enforcement,” Maryellen Kiley, the college’s dean of students, wrote in that Jan. 28 e-mail.
Curry College spokeswoman Frances Jackson said the past policy has been to notify the full campus in situations where an assailant is unknown, which was not the case in this instance. Jackson said the administration now is reviewing policies of other educational institutions in similar situations.
“We seek to strike a balance between allowing our students the independence and flexibility to have social relationships with both students and nonstudents and creating a safe environment,” Jackson said in an interview. “Our reviews will look to see if more needs to be done with regards to education and enforcement around existing policies or if new policies need to be employed.”
Jackson added that the administration chose to wait until the men were arrested before sending out the notice. The men were arrested late on Jan. 25, a Friday, and the notice went out the following Monday.
Curry College students interviewed last week said they had heard about the alleged gang rape through Kiley’s e-mail.
Freshman Josef Lopez-Negrete said he was surprised when he read the e-mail, and felt that security was lacking on campus.
“I feel like anyone could come in,” he said.
Freshman Michele Beaulieu said she was concerned when she read the e-mail, and that she was considering walking around in groups with others rather than alone.
At the same time, she said she was grateful to be informed of the case by the administration.
“At least they sent an e-mail letting everyone know that it happened,” she said.
According to Corey Theodore Jr., a junior who is president of the Student Government Association, allegations of rape on campus occur about once a year — some substantiated and some not.
Theodore said he feels safe on campus and that he has never had issues with safety, but he hoped for more information from the administration.
“Public Safety is doing a great job; communication is the issue,” Theodore said.
When rumors about a rape arose in the days following the alleged attack, students talked about it, according to Theodore, but the topic has not come up much beyond that. Lopez-Negrete and Beaulieu likewise said it had not sparked lasting community discussion.
The Student Government Association has not spoken about the alleged rape either, according to Theodore. “That’s over our heads,” he said.
The three men charged as suspects in the sexual assault are Justin O. Castor, 20, of Arlington; Kensley Y. Metellus, 19, of Malden; and Shakarus D. Semexant, 20, of Malden. They were arraigned Jan. 28 in Quincy District Court on charges of conspiracy to commit rape, aggravated rape, assault with intent to commit rape, and indecent assault and battery.
Kiley said two of the suspects were former Curry students. They were released on $5,000 bail each, on the condition that they stay away from Curry College, the victim, and any witnesses. Their probable cause hearings are scheduled for April 12 in Quincy District Court.
According to Jackson, the college’s Public Safety Department is in continuous operation, with a guard at the campus’s front gate at all times. Staffed with 18 full-time and three part-time officers, the department practices community policing and regularly holds safety seminars on campus, she said.
Safety officers provide escorts on and off campus, and all new students participate in an orientation session about sexual assault, Jackson said. Professional residence staff and students who serve as resident assistants receive training concerning procedures to deal with sexual assaults.
“We have an extensive amount of education and safety programs on campus,” Jackson said. “It’s something we do at Curry College. We have no more fundamental obligation than to provide a safe living and learning environment for students.”
Each student is allowed to have a maximum of two guests on campus at any given time, according to the fall 2012 student handbook. Host students are responsible for the behavior of their guests, and they can be asked to leave by Curry staff, the guest policy states.
The student handbook explicitly prohibits abusive behavior and possession of alcohol by minors. Students of age are limited in the amount of alcohol they can possess and may drink only in their private rooms, and not in public areas of campus or areas designated as “substance-free.” Intoxicated students and their guests are not allowed into school-sponsored activities, according to the handbook.
Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at eisen.globe@ gmail.com.