Student accused of sex assault withdraws, president apologizes
ANTIGONISH, N.S. — A St. Francis Xavier University student accused of sexual assault has withdrawn from the school, capping a week of controversy after it was revealed he was allowed to remain on campus pending a criminal prosecution.
The Antigonish, N.S., school’s president apologized Friday for how the case was handled, and said after “much reflection and advice” he concluded that the student should leave the university. The Toronto-area woman who reported the allegations said Friday she has “mixed emotions” about the outcome, while the accused said in a statement that it’s with a “heavy heart” that he voluntarily withdrew.
It’s a situation that underscores the challenge of addressing sexual assault claims on campus amid the ongoing cultural reckoning of the #MeToo era.
In a two-page letter to the campus community, president Kent MacDonald said, “I acknowledge and accept the fact that we can do better.”
“In this particular case, there were clear gaps in communication and apparent issues relating to our appeal processes that negatively affected our university community and, in some cases, re-traumatized victim/survivors,” he said. “For this, I am sorry.”
MacDonald’s comments come after The Canadian Press revealed an Ontario woman’s experience reporting an alleged sexual assault to the university.
Although the school launched an investigation after the woman came forward and found the accused responsible, it set aside its decision to suspend him the next academic year — without notifying her — when he appealed.
The woman, whose name is under a publication ban, was devastated to discover him on campus last month and has since left the university.