Stu­dent ac­cused of sex as­sault with­draws, pres­i­dent apol­o­gizes

Waterloo Region Record - - Canada & World -

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.

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