IU: Sexual misconduct review finds no bias

A review of sexual misconduct cases overseen by Indiana University's former student ethics director, who resigned in February amid sex assault allegations that he denies, found that those cases "were conducted without bias or undue influence," the school said Monday.

A retired law professor reviewed 17 sexual misconduct cases that Jason Casares presided over during the past academic year and found that school rules were followed in each case, "ensuring a fair process for all parties involved," according to a university statement. The review also found that Casares never pressured hearing officers to take a particular position.

No charges have been filed against Casares, who resigned after a woman alleged in an open letter posted on social media that he sexually assaulted her in December during the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors' annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Fort Worth police are still investigating the allegations, department spokesman Officer Daniel Segura said Monday.

Casares was hired in 2011 as student ethics officer and a deputy Title IX coordinator for IU's Bloomington campus. His attorney, Tony Paganelli, has said Casares "adamantly denies" the woman's allegations and left his job only after school officials told him he could either resign or face termination. Paganelli didn't return a call seeking comment Monday on the case and the school's review.

After the woman's allegations surfaced, IU said it would review 18 sexual misconduct cases that Casares recently presided over to determine if they were properly handled. IU spokesman Mark Land said Monday that one of those cases was removed from the review when IU's Office of Student Ethics agreed to hear an appeal in the case.

He said that case was pulled from the review because it "is still going through a formal appeal process."

IU professor emerita Julia Lamber conducted the review, reading the entire case file for each of the 17 sexual misconduct cases and listening to audio recordings of disciplinary hearings that a panel held for each case. She also interviewed two panel members who heard each case with Casares.

IU said Lamber's review focused in particular "on Casares' conduct in the disciplinary hearings as well as his interaction with the parties involved in each case and the other hearing panelists."

The school said Lamber's review concluded that "the university can trust the training" of its hearing officers and the school's process for handling sexual misconduct claims.

Land said he couldn't comment on whether the appealed case that was dropped from the review was the one that spurred an advocacy group for campus sex assault victims to file a federal civil rights complaint against IU last month. But he said it was among the 18 cases initially assigned to Lamber for her review.

The complaint, filed by End Rape on Campus, alleges the school wrongfully barred an accuser from trying to appeal her case because she missed an appeal deadline. The group says she appealed when she learned of the allegations against Casares.

Land said IU was cooperating with the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights as it reviews that complaint.

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