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(U-WIRE) PROVIDENCE, R.I.--The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating the refusal of Brown University's Disciplinary Council (UDC) to hear one student's allegation of rape against a fellow student.
The Providence Phoenix printed details of OCR's investigation Friday after obtaining documents under the Freedom of Information Act. As reported in Tuesday's Herald, the OCR investigation falls under Title IX's prohibition against gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
According to OCR documents, the alleged rape took place on September 3, 1996. The two individuals had been involved in a nine-month relationship, but the woman said her boyfriend had become abusive in several instances and on the night in question forced her to have sex.
The woman decided to pursue disciplinary action, and her case was accepted by the Monday Morning Review Board. The board decides if cases should go before the UDC, which has the authority to decide matters of sexual misconduct.
The seven-member disciplinary body convened to hear the case on October 28, 1996. UDC voted to go into a closed session, requiring that everyone except the council leave the room.
According to OCR documents, the accused student was represented by Professor of Old World Archeology and Art Martha Joukowsky, who argued that the case should be dismissed. UDC members then voted 5-4 not to hear the case, with Stephen Foley, the UDC chair and a professor of English, casting the tie-breaking vote.
UDC has the power to decline to hear a case without stating any reason for its decision.
Professor Joukowsky is the wife of Chancellor Artemis Joukowsky, a long-time financial benefactor of the University. In interview notes taken by OCR during its investigation, Joukowsky said she met the alleged rapist's parents while working at an archeological site in 1993. In 1995, this same student worked on her excavation team.
The alleged rapist told the professor that his father was a "generous contributor" to Brown, according to OCR documents.
The alleged victim's parents argued in their complaint to OCR that Joukowsky should not have represented the accused before UDC.
"Professor Joukowsky has vested and conflict of interest professionally and personally, on the one hand with the charged student's family, and, on the other, within Brown University Administration," their complaint reads, according to The Phoenix.
University President Vartan Gregorian wrote, in response to a letter from the alleged victim's parents, "I do not know if the advisor knew or was friends with the family of the charged student, but the University does not require the advisor to be impartial and the students usually choose a professor they know well. I have to assume that their friendship would not disqualify her participation as I assume others would not view my friendship with [the woman's family] as compromising my judgment as President."
Brown University officials have made little comment in response to the details of the case. Brown News Bureau Director Mark Nickel refused to comment, pointing out that administrators are required to keep disciplinary matters in confidence.
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