WATERVILLE — Twelve Colby College students have been suspended and two have permanently withdrawn from the college following an investigation of alleged sexual misconduct there, according to Colby officials.

Citing federal guidelines and Colby policies, the officials would not identify the students or disclose the nature of the incident, which they said happened in early November.

But the Colby student newspaper, citing an anonymous source, reported Wednesday that a female student was the victim of voyeurs. The anonymous source claimed to have direct knowledge of the incident, according to the story on the Colby Echo website.

Colby officials would not confirm the details cited by the anonymous source.

None of the students face criminal charges; they are being charged through Colby’s disciplinary process.

An email from Colby President William Adams to the Colby community, dated Jan. 12, outlined actions taken as a result of the college investigation:

“Fifteen students were charged with a range of infractions against Colby policy which included: 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.”

Jim Terhune, Colby’s vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said Wednesday that of 15 students involved in the incident, two permanently withdrew from Colby and 12 were suspended. Action against the 15th student had not been determined as of Wednesday, he said.

Of the 12 suspended, some were close to completing their Colby degrees and will likely fulfill the requirements away from campus, Terhune said.

Others will be eligible to return to campus, once their suspensions have ended, he said.

Adams’ email states that sanctions applied in the resolved cases included suspension from the month-long Jan Plan program, the spring semester and some subsequent semesters.

Waterville Deputy police Chief Charles Rumsey said Wednesday that the department and the district attorney’s office determined that the incident did not constitute criminal conduct.

Rumsey said that Colby’s director of security, Peter Chenevert, contacted police when a Colby student reported the November incident to college security.

Rumsey noted that police had not been contacted by any Colby student reporting to be the victim of a crime.

He would not reveal details of the incident, saying they were relayed to police in a private conversation with college officials in an effort to protect students. In addition, since the students’ actions did not constitute a crime, it would be improper to divulge the information, Rumsey said.

“I think we need to be able to have conversations that are confidential and not be concerned that those conversations are going to be broadcast publicly,” he said.

Adams, in his email, emphasized the college’s responsibility and obligation to keep the names of those involved confidential.

“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.”

Adams pledged to launch forums to discuss campus climate and how to improve that climate.

Terhune and Michael Kiser, Colby’s vice president of communications, said Wednesday that two forums have been held on campus so far. During the forums, students gained a better understanding of protections offered them by the college’s privacy policy and other policies; students also exhibited an earnest desire to push the conversation about the importance of responsibility and civility beyond anything related to the November incident, according to Terhune and Kiser.

One of the forums was Monday night and attended by between 200 and 250 students, faculty and staff, with students making up the majority of the crowd, they said.

The forum produced positive results, Kiser said.

“It is really encouraging to see so many articulate, well-educated young people who are willing to play that kind of intent role in shaping the community,” Kiser said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

 

 


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