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November 02, 2017 05:00 PM

Social Media Backlash Over Handling Of Rape Charges Prompts USD To "Do Better"

By Angela Kennecke

Vermillion, SD

It's been one of the top stories all week: rape charges against two USD football players.

Our KELOLAND News investigation and reports from the student newspaper have prompted USD officials to hold a town hall discussion. 

This comes after backlash on social media over the way University officials have been handling the situation.  We spoke with Dean of Students Kim Grieve about what policies and rules USD follows after such allegations are made.

"Students are still here on campus and allowed to go to class," Grieve said on Tuesday.

Angela Kennecke: Does that mean there's a chance they could run into their accuser; their accuser could run into them?
Grieve: There is a chance that could happen, absolutely.
Grieve went onto explain that the victim or the football players could ask for interim measures to be put in place on campus until a hearing could be held in the case.  So far no one involved has requested that. 

The USD student newspaper, The Volante quoted our report and also conducted an interview with Tena Haraldson, who is Director of Communications for the University. 

"It's just an unfortunate situation. It hurts the image of USD.  It hurts the athletic team; the football team is going to be affected by this," Haraldson told The Volante.

Haraldson has since come under fire on social media for that statement with complaints she wasn't sensitive enough to the victim and was even accused of "normalizing rape culture."

Over the phone, Haraldson says she regrets what she said and did not intend to marginalize the victim. Haraldson says she did not mention the victim at all to protect her privacy.

Wednesday night, USD put out a statement on its Twitter account. 
"We've heard your concern and agree---some of our recent comments fell short. They don't reflect our values or our priorities."

USD promises to analyze its procedures and take public input to demonstrate its commitment to ending sexual assault.

It will hold a town hall meeting with student government and the dean of students on November 13 at 7 p.m.  The location of that meeting has yet to be determined. 

© 2017 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.

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