Idaho Vandals

Rob Spear said U of I hadn't had 'any issues' recently with sexual assault. It had.

Spear speaks to U of I students

Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear told the ASUI Senate on Wednesday that there was “mass confusion” in April 2013 about a policy that governed off-campus incidents and he was not properly trained on that policy.
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Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear told the ASUI Senate on Wednesday that there was “mass confusion” in April 2013 about a policy that governed off-campus incidents and he was not properly trained on that policy.

A second key statement that University of Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear made to the student senate while on administrative leave has proved to be untrue.

"I can tell you that we have not had in the recent past here any issues with sexual assault," Spear told the ASUI Senate on April 4.

However, a University of Idaho student-athlete was accused of rape on Nov. 16, 2017 — about four and a half months before Spear's statement. The woman who said she was raped repeated her accusation in three interviews with the Moscow Police Department, but the Latah County Prosecutor's Office declined to prosecute and the case was closed Jan. 23. The student-athlete, whose name was included in a document obtained by the Idaho Statesman, remains an active member of the athletic department.

There were no eyewitnesses to the incident that led to the rape accusation. The woman said the student-athlete used physical force; the man said they had consensual sex.

"In the end, we could not prove that a crime was committed," said Mia Vowels, the Moscow city attorney who handled the case in her previous job in the Latah County Prosecutor's Office.

The University of Idaho declined to comment on the case through spokeswoman Jodi Walker, citing student privacy laws. Spear's attorney, Kathryn Marsh, said the university's office of general counsel instructed him not to comment.

The university is obligated to investigate the case separately from police under university policy and Title IX.

The November 2017 case was brought to Spear's attention via email by Tyson Berrett, the campus captain for Moscow police. The email to Spear and Dean of Students Blaine Eckles, obtained by the Statesman through a public records request, had the date redacted but referred to "the alleged sex offense our patrol officers took this morning." The initial report was attached to the email but the attachment was withheld from the university's records release.

Berrett provided the Statesman with the corresponding case number. The city of Moscow initially declined a request for the report, citing an "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy," but reconsidered after pushback from the Statesman through a public records attorney. The report was provided with the names of the suspect, alleged victim and witnesses redacted.

The Statesman has obtained police reports for four sexual assault investigations involving U of I students in recent years. None of those cases resulted in sexual assault charges. However, the football player involved in two of them — Jahrie Level — was expelled after a Title IX investigation. The alleged victim in a third case, in September 2012, reached a financial settlement with the university after her accused rapist was allowed to enroll in school, according to state records.

Spear was placed on a 60-day, paid administrative leave April 3 while the university conducts an investigation into the athletic department's handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints, including complaints against Level by three different women in 2012-13. Those three incidents apparently weren't connected until the Statesman reported on them in March.

Two independent investigators have been hired by the university.

Spear's comments to the ASUI Senate came during an appearance to describe his efforts to prevent sexual assault and answer questions from senators about his department's actions and culture. The senate voted 10-5 later that night to ask for his resignation in a resolution that has no binding effect.

Spear also argued that he technically might not have violated university policy in the way he handled a 2013 sexual assault complaint because the emergency policy enacted in February 2012 to require off-campus incidents be reported to the dean of students office for investigation had expired. That policy actually was made permanent in May 2012, according to university records.