Idaho Vandals

It’s ‘possible’ U of I could have prevented 2013 sexual assault, president says

University of Idaho president touts athletic director’s efforts to prevent sexual assault

Calling him a "role model for the university," University of Idaho President Chuck Staben expressed support for athletic director Rob Spear in comments to student leaders on Wednesday, March 28, in Moscow.
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Calling him a "role model for the university," University of Idaho President Chuck Staben expressed support for athletic director Rob Spear in comments to student leaders on Wednesday, March 28, in Moscow.

The University of Idaho could have prevented the 2013 sexual assault of a student-athlete if it had handled an earlier incident correctly, President Chuck Staben told the Idaho Statesman on Wednesday.

The university on Tuesday released its independent investigative report into misconduct complaints against former football player Jahrie Level in 2012-13. The portion of the report made public focuses on the handling of the sexual assault complaint lodged by Mairin Jameson in April 2013.

However, the investigators also reviewed two prior incidents, Staben said — a November 2012 case involving a woman who was found heavily intoxicated with severe bruising after spending time with Level and an April 2013 complaint by former track athlete Maggie Miller that Level threatened her. Both incidents were reported to the Moscow Police, the university and the athletic department.

“In 2012, we had a concern about a student-athlete on our campus, Jahrie Level,” said Staben, who wasn’t at the U of I then, “and had, at that time, the university taken a different course with him it is possible that all the 2013 incidents could have been avoided. But it’s a lot easier to see that in hindsight than in foresight.”

The Title IX investigator assigned to the 2012 incident has reservations about her work on that case, Staben said. There also are “unresolved” questions about how the university was notified of the incident by Moscow Police, he said.

Athletic Director Rob Spear has said he was unaware of the 2012 case until this year. Level, a regular starter, was not in the starting lineup in the next Vandals game.

“The university was eventually informed, that’s clear, and athletics was eventually informed,” Staben said.

The portions of the independent investigative report released publicly describe a lack of training and communication by the university in relation to policies for sexual harassment and sexual violence, which contributed to mistakes made by the athletic department, the authors say. But it also singles out Spear’s response as “inadequate” — both in 2013, when dealing with Jameson and her parents, and in 2018, when Jameson shared her story publicly.

“A couple things that are clear in the report is that he did not follow the policy that was in place, though not very well communicated at that time,” Staben said, “and that his response in 2013 and again in 2018 was not particularly empathetic or supportive of Ms. Jameson.”

Staben placed Spear on paid, administrative leave April 3 to allow for the independent investigation. Spear remains on leave and the State Board of Education has stepped in to make a final decision instead of Staben, who is in the final year of a contract that won’t be renewed.

The State Board has not told Staben why it stepped in, he said. This is the first time the State Board has taken over a U of I personnel decision during his tenure, he said. Staben became president in 2014.

“The State Board has taken on responsibility for that decision,” Staben said. “They are the ultimate decision authority for the university.”

The State Board has held two executive sessions in recent weeks to discuss a U of I personnel matter. Staben wasn’t involved in those discussions, he said.

He declined comment on whether he provided a recommendation on Spear’s future to the State Board, or if he was asked for one.

“I have provided some information to them, and at this point I don’t anticipate having a further role,” he said.

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