Sexual Assault Reported on Campus

BY COLE McNANNA // Oct. 24 2017 //

An alleged sexual assault occurred early Sunday morning on Curry College campus.

The incident is currently under investigation by Public Safety and Milton Police Department. Alleged assailant(s) are currently unknown.

The alleged incident occurred Sunday Oct. 22, around 2:30 a.m. by the basketball courts on Blue Jay Way. The report was submitted Monday evening, Oct. 23, by a third-party who was not present at the time of the assault.

The group of Curry students stated “they were reporting the incident on behalf of the alleged victim who told them what had happened,” according to an email sent out by Public Safety Director Paul King Tuesday afternoon.

No further details were able to be provided from either PS or MPD but any and every bit of information can help their investigation. Public Safety can be reached at any time at 617-333-2222 and Milton PD’s general line is 617-698-3800. The crime tip hotline for MPD can be reached at 617-698-COPS (2677).

This story is developing and will be updated as details emerge.

Students Want Better Communication About Crimes

BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO AND TYLER MILLIKEN // MAY 3, 2017 //

A number of Curry College students are angry about being kept in the dark about serious campus incidents this semester.

Students, faculty, and staff alike are trying to resolve tensions, and some issues. The Student Government Association hosted an open forum at its annual Town Hall Meeting; the college ran a “May Day” event that promoted a positive outlook on diversity; and various groups have hosted educational events on campus concerning topics such as race, environmental concerns, and LGBTQ+ discrimination. There were even student-led protests last semester about the need for greater inclusion and transparency on campus.

But although the college has implemented a new “bias response protocol this semester, the administration remains inconsistent in how and when it informs the Curry community — if at all — about serious incidents on campus.

Sexual Assault in Curry Dorm

(Editor’s Note: Charges have been dropped in this case.)

For example, on May 1, The Patriot Ledger reported that a Curry student was raped in her dorm room by a Hyde Park resident who does not attend the school.

Godson Derosena, an 18-year-old student at Northeastern University, was arraigned in Quincy District Court on Friday, April 28, on charges of rape and indecent assault and battery. According to the story, the Curry student reported the incident to Public Safety back on March 22. The assault occurred two days prior.

Public Safety contacted the Milton Police Department, as well as campus support services for the victim. However, the Curry administration chose not to notify students, faculty or staff about the on-campus assault at any point throughout the investigation or even after Derosena’s arrest. Derosena pleaded not guilty last Friday and was released without bail.

“The only reason I knew about the rape was because my dad called me yesterday about the rape, worried about what was going on on campus,” said Emily Travascio, a freshman Nursing major, noting that her father learned about the incident from local news reports. “For other events going on on campus, such as racial prejudices, the school is slow to react to these things. We never really know what is going on.”

“The value of knowing is so we can be safer and be better informed,” she added. “I do not think the college is doing a good job of informing us.”

Student Sending Death Threats

As was the case with the on-campus assault, most members of the Curry community learned about another incident only after it was first reported on by external news media. According to The Berkshire Eagle, a Curry College first-year student was arrested on Sunday, March 26 after sending threatening messages to six other Curry students.

The Berkshire Eagle article was published on Tuesday, March 28. The following day, Curry College Public Safety released a statement of its own via email to notify the Curry community about what happened.

According to Public Safety, six Curry students reported that a previously suspended student, Sean Baruch, 19, had sent them vulgar text messages. Two of the students reported receiving death threats that included images of a black handgun. Baruch reportedly communicated that he was coming to campus.

It is unclear why Baruch was previously suspended by the college.

Public Safety contacted the Milton Police Department and assisted both Milton and Lenox Police in an effort to locate Baruch, who lives in Lenox. Lenox Police found Baruch at home, where he was taken into custody. It was only upon his arrest that police learned that the weapon he displayed was a toy.

Baruch has been charged with threatening to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrested. He pleaded not guilty in Southern Berkshire District Court.

“If it had been deemed an immediate or ongoing threat, Public Safety would have issued an emergency alert or timely warning in closer proximity to the actual incident,” said Interim Director Paul L’Italien. “Even though an emergency alert or warning wasn’t required, because of the scope and seriousness of the circumstances of the incident, including the arrest, the College believed it was important to send a community notification.”

However, L’Italien noted that there was a longer than usual interval of time in implementing the community notification protocol “due to human error.”

Hate Crimes reported via the Curry Portal

On Monday, April 10, Public Safety alerted students through the MyCurry portal about two bias-related incidents on campus. Throughout the past two semesters, students have been informed of these issues through campus email.

The community message explained that “a student in the Mayflower residence hall reported that her room had been entered and vandalized by an unknown individual(s). The student, who identifies as a member of the LBGT community, indicated that her decorations, including one with LGBTQ pride rainbow colors, were torn down and rearranged to spell an offensive word.”

Lumped into the message was a second incident. “A student who lives in the Lombard residence hall reported that the whiteboard on his door had been written on. The message, which was offensive and biased in nature, has been documented and removed, and the College has posted a notice about the occurrence of the graffiti in the location where it occurred, indicating intolerance for such behavior and asking for assistance in addressing it.”

“Prior to the new protocol, communications were inconsistent,” said L’Italien. “The ‘bias response team’ has implemented a consistent communication protocol this semester, which includes sending a Public Safety email to all students, parents, faculty, and staff if an instance of a hate crime occurs. That was not the case in the April 10 incident.”

L’Italien added that local law enforcement did not determine the incidents to be hate crimes, but that the “discriminatory behavior” will not be tolerated.

No one has yet to be identified responsible for the incidents.

Lisa MacDonald, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said students in the two residence halls assisted the bias response team and Student Affairs staff in addressing “this unacceptable behavior in their community.”

“If an instance of bias-related graffiti or vandalism occurs, the response team will [from now on] post a notification to all campus community members on myCurry,” said MacDonald. “The bias incident response team is also in the process of expanding the myCurry Diversity page and implementing ongoing updates about bias-related matters.”

While it remains unclear what constitutes “bias-related graffiti” versus a “hate crime,” it is evident that many students are unsatisfied with the inconsistent communication on campus. If a bias incident merits public acknowledgment via a flier at the site of the offense, why does a sexual assault on campus merit no communication at all?

“I believe it’s definitely important to know what’s going on at campus, and it’s not a good look for Public Safety to be hiding these serious situations from students,” said Marvin Bony, a senior Business Management major. “It causes more harm than good.”

When asked about the recent sexual assault on campus, which he was unaware of, freshman Stephen Bascio was far more blunt.

“I am absolutely appalled,” said Bascio. “Curry was founded on communications, so why don’t they start communicating the things that matter most”

Student Arraigned on Assault Charges

BY RYAN HATHAWAY // NOV. 1, 2015 //

A Curry freshman was arraigned in court on Monday, Oct. 26, after an incident in which he allegedly accosted another Curry student in Scholars Hall.

This is the second reported assault in the 2015-16 school year.

James Murphy, of Walpole, Mass., was arraigned on charges of accosting or annoying a person of the opposite sex, possession of a class B drug, Adderall, and three counts of indecent assault and battery of a person 14 or older. Murphy is free after posting $10,000 bail; he is due back in court Dec. 18.

The incident took place in the early-morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 24, in the front lobby of Scholars Hall, according to the Milton police report. Murphy was allegedly harassing, groping and attempting to kiss the victim, who was working front-desk security at the time, for approximately 45 minutes. The report also stated that Murphy told police he had previously consumed approximately 16 oz. of vodka, and that he didn’t remember much of what happened but did recall the victim telling him to “just go away.”

The only witness was the dorm’s resident advisor, Emma Sullivan.

Sullivan clarified that she did not see the incident, but was able to hear it from where she was working around the corner. She did, however, go out to check in on the victim twice. On the first occasion, Sullivan said she asked the student if she was OK and the student said yes.

Once Murphy finally left the lobby altogether, the female student went to Sullivan’s office and then contacted Curry Public Safety. (Sullivan is the editor of CurrierTimes.net, but played no role in the assigning, writing or editing of this story.)

Dean of Students Maryellen Kiley emailed the student body on Monday to report the incident. In an interview Friday afternoon, Kiley and Associate Dean Rachel King stated that the college’s disciplinary process was ongoing and a decision on whether to suspend, or expel, Murphy had not yet been reached.

Kiley did say that Curry goes to great lengths to train its Public Safety officers and resident advisors to handle incidents of misconduct.

“We do a great deal of training with our RA’s,” she said. “RA’s have a lot of training regarding when to call their community directors or Public Safety.”

Kiley added that Public Safety officers are also provided with comprehensive training.

“Public Safety goes through a number of different trainings,” she said. “Most of them are trained SSPO.” SSPO stands for Special State Police Officer, and Kiley clarified that all but two Curry officers are not yet certified with the SSPO designation.

Kiley also said that student athletes receive additional training beyond what is offered to the entire student body regarding alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct. Murphy is a member of the Curry football team.

Murphy told police that he ignored his team’s 11 p.m. curfew because he was a freshman and “didn’t play much.” He also said that he had been drinking with friends from the football team in the North Campus Residence Hall that night, and that another member of the football team had supplied him with alcohol.

Curry Director of Communication Fran Jackson said the college reviews every incident to determine whether policies or procedures need to be revised, including the possible addition of a second student working the late-night security shift.

“Matters of safety are a fundamental priority of the College,” she said. “We are overviewing procedures with the goal of safeguarding faculty, students, and staff.”

In interviews with five different Curry female students, all five agreed that they felt safe at the college. Three said they learned of the incident via Kiley’s email. One heard it from her family, who read about it in a local newspaper, and the other didn’t know about it at all.

Junior health major Abby Pieger, an RA, said she has never felt unsafe at Curry.

“We have the Blue Light System (and emergency alert system in select locations throughout campus), which I think is really effective,” she said. “And Public Safety tries to make their presence known around campus.” Pieger did say she thought the campus could be better lit.

Cassie Breen, a freshman nursing major who works as an attendant at the library, said she never walks alone at night. “Maybe they could add a few more Blue Lights in places where people go, she said. “I sometimes feel like they’re randomly placed.”

Sophomore nursing majors Amelia McCaffery and Kerry Cullinan said they appreciated that the college informed students about the alleged incident, and that Public Safety is always quick to respond to whatever issues arise on campus.

Said McCaffrey, “I think they handled it in a good way.”

Sexual Assault Talk Draws Crowd

BY SANJAY TOURE’ // MARCH 31, 2015 //

Jaclyn Friedman was once a victim of sexual assault. But she is no longer a victim. Instead, Friedman has taken ownership of her story, and now shares it widely in the hope of helping young women — and men — to better own their decisions, behaviors and wellbeing.

Friedman, author of Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power, A World Without Rape, and What You Really, Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety, came to Curry on Thursday, March 26 to address students, faculty and staff alike. The event—hosted by the college’s Criminal Justice and Sociology Department—was mandatory for student-athletes at Curry, and many other students joined them in the Student Center gymnasium for the talk.

Friedman openly discussed her past, which included having her attacker still living on campus with her when they attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She said someone on the sports team she managed raped her, and that the college did little to address the issue. This was a big reason Friedman decided to become an advocate and bring awareness to sexual assaults.

Many people are under the false conception that assaults happen in dark alleys or weird, sketchy places. In reality, Friedman said, they mostly happen at casual events with close acquaintances. And assaulters don’t look like cartoon villains. They’re often the good guy, someone who gets good grades and who everyone loves.

Many assaults that happen in college occur when alcohol is involved, she added. Among the tips she offered was to have a friend tell you when you are making a bad decision. This goes for men and women. Before going out, come up with a code word or phrase to say when one of your friends is getting too touchy or intimate with someone who may not be interested in sexual interactions. It could be something as simple and subtle as “You left your lights on” or “Come to the bathroom with me.”

Laura Ferris and Jennifer Dube, freshmen at Curry, appreciated that the college put on the event, given the assaults on campus in recent years. Neither has been particularly happy with the college’s responses to date.

“We were given rape whistles when the incident occurred last year,” said Ferris, a nursing major. “What is that going to do for us?”

Added Dube, also a nursing major: “Events like these help people be educated on the subject, so that these incidents don’t happen in the first place.”

The issue of sexual assaults on college campuses has received national attention in recent years. The federal government has been investigating colleges’ and universities’ responses to alleged assaults, and have required schools that receive federal funding to offer educational training to students, faculty and staff. According to research by the National Institute of Justice, women in college face a far greater risk of sexual assault than women of the same age who are not attending school.

Another topic Friedman spoke about was “enthusiastic consent,” which is a mutual, verbal, physical, and emotional agreement that happens without manipulation, threats, or head games. Lastly, Friedman sought to remind students that sex isn’t scary and something to fear. It’s a normal part of human nature, and people should simply be conscious and aware of who they surround themselves with.

“It is not bad to try things,” said Friedman, “unless you don’t have consent.”

New Assault Case Emerges as Old Case Closes

BY EMMA SULLIVAN // DEC. 11, 2014 //

Oct. 16 was an important day for former Curry College student Robert “Troy” Jones. That’s when the criminal case against him for assaulting and kidnapping a pair of female Curry student was dropped.

According to Quincy District Court records, the case was dismissed due to a lack of evidence. On Dec. 6, 2013, Jones was charged with two counts of assault and battery of a person 14 or older, and one charge of kidnapping.

The college suspended Jones following his arrest. Since that time there have been a number of other assault incidents.

Most recently, a Curry student reported that a fellow student sexually assaulted them on Thursday, Dec. 4. However, according to the college, the student didn’t report the assault for nearly a week. It was reported to campus officials on Dec. 10, and Dean of Students Maryellen Kiley notified the campus by email on Thursday, Dec. 11. 

PHOTO BY HARVEY K, via Flickr Creative Commons
PHOTO BY HARVEY K, via Flickr Creative Commons

“The College took appropriate actions upon receiving the report, including supporting our student and informing external law enforcement,” the email read in part. Milton Police is investigating the incident, she reported, but the email did not say whether the alleged assailant remains on campus.

In Jones’ case, he was swiftly placed on interim suspension and then full suspension following his arraignment. He is unable to petition for reinstatement until August 2016 at the earliest.

According to the Curry College Student Handbook, “If a student or law enforcement agency requests the College to delay its student conduct process because the conduct at issue is also subject to a civil or criminal case, the College…will determine if it is in the best interest of the College and its community to delay or move forward with the student conduct process…notwithstanding the civil or criminal case.”

The Student Handbook also explains how such matters are adjudicated. “The facts gathered during the College’s investigation of reported violations of the…Sexual Misconduct Policy will be reviewed, and a decision will be made as to whether a violation occurred, based upon a preponderance of the evidence standard (i.e., it is more likely than not that the alleged violation of the…Sexual Misconduct Policy occurred).”

The “preponderance of evidence” standard is far less than the legal standard of guilt.

Balancing a no-tolerance position against sexual assaults and students’ due process rights has become a challenge for colleges. In fact, a number of male students disciplined for sexual assaults or misconduct have filed discrimination lawsuits against their colleges. These men claim college investigators are biased and too often blindingly favor female accusers.

Last December, Jones was a freshman majoring in elementary education. He was also listed on the 2013 football roster as a linebacker.

Attempts to contact Jones using Facebook, Twitter, and his home phone number were unsuccessful. A message sent using Facebook was read, but remained unanswered.

According to Jones’s Twitter account, as of Dec. 7, 2014, he has registered for classes and is ready to go back to school. Because he is unable to enroll at Curry until 2016, it is unknown which institution Jones is now enrolled at.