More than a dozen Colby students sanctioned after sexual misconduct investigation

Posted Feb. 09, 2012, at 7:09 p.m.

WATERVILLE, Maine — The conclusion of an investigation involving sexual misconduct at Colby College has led to two students withdrawing from the school and 12 others being suspended.

In all 15 students faced disciplinary action, according to Colby spokeswoman Ruth Jacobs.

The students were accused of violating Colby policy prohibiting sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, lying to college officials, conspiring to obstruct an investigation and behavior that one knew or should have known would cause emotional harm.

Colby President William D. Adams issued a campuswide email on Jan. 12 concerning the allegations.

The email didn’t name the students involved or what actually happened to bring about the investigation.

“We’re prohibited from giving out any details about the disciplinary case,” Jacobs said Thursday.

Jacobs said that 14 of the 15 cases have been resolved while one is still pending. Sanctions against students included multisemester suspensions. Two students permanently withdrew from the school.

An investigation was launched by the school in early November amid allegations of sexual misconduct. The school contacted the Waterville Police Department and consulted with the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office. It was determined that no crime had occurred, and therefore no criminal investigation was initiated.

“I want to assure you all that our process was exhaustive, complex and fair — conducted without prejudgment of the outcome,” Adams said in the campuswide email. “And while such a process takes no small amount of time, we believe that it has come to a just and correct conclusion.”

The Colby Echo, the student newspaper at the college, said the suspended students are football players and that the football coach has since resigned. The investigation began Nov. 5, the newspaper reported, when a female Colby student learned that a number of football players had intentionally watched through a window as she engaged in a consensual sex act with one of their teammates.

Amid the allegations, the Student Government Association decided not to send a fan bus to Bowdoin College in Brunswick on Nov. 12 to support the Colby football team, according to the Echo.

Jacobs would comment on whether the football team was involved in the allegations.

“We can’t publicly discuss anything that would identify the students. You won’t hear the college refer to anyone or any group that might have been involved,” said Jacobs.

Colby’s head football coach, Ed Mestieri, resigned on Dec. 2 after eight years in that position. He was a part of the team for 23 years in all.

Jacobs said Mestieri resigned for personal reasons and wouldn’t comment on whether the allegations and Mestieri’s resignation were related.

A message left for Mestieri was not returned Thursday.

“While we know that many will want more details, I must underscore what we have emphasized from the outset — our responsibility and obligation to preserve and maintain the privacy of all involved,” Adams said in the email. “However, the severity of the sanctions should make it clear that we have taken these cases very seriously and that we will not tolerate behaviors and actions antithetical to our community values. Colby must stand for mutual respect, for individual and collective dignity, for honesty, for fairness and for civility.”

On Nov. 15, the college held an open dialogue with students regarding sexual harassment and assaults. The event drew 500 students, said Jacobs.

“This has been a very difficult time for Colby, and while it might not be easy, we must continue to confront these and other difficult but important issues as they arise on our campus,” said Adams. “Thankfully, we are strong and well-equipped for that task, and I look forward to the more mindful and respectful community that we, together, can surely create.”

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