Hanover Police closes assault investigation

by Sam Rauschenfels | 1/20/11 11:00pm

Following an investigation led primarily by Hanover Police, the Jan. 16 call for assistance from a female who was allegedly assaulted in a campus residence hall has been deemed an unsubstantiated assault claim, Director of Safety and Security and College Proctor Harry Kinne said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

"After investigating, Safety and Security and the Hanover Police found that the crime was never committed," Kinne said.

The incident was "unfounded" and there is no present "risk to the Dartmouth community or to public safety," Kinne said in an e-mail to campus on Jan. 20.

Many students have expressed concern that the language of Kinne's e-mail specifically the use of the word "unfounded" to describe the woman's claim might give the impression that victims must be entirely certain of a crime before they report it, according to Janie Abernethy '12, a co-chair of the Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault.

"Although I'm ignorant to the facts of this particular situation, the word unfounded' suggests to me that reporting an incident is unsafe and possibly humiliating, and that in order to prove a case I have to be 100 percent certain," Abernethy said. "It's just too bad because [Kinne's] intention was not that in any way, but the administration especially has to be extremely conscious with the words they choose to use when they're talking about sexual assault."

SPCSA has not yet determined a course of action in response to Kinne's e-mail, although Abernethy has already received e-mails from and spoken with students who were uncomfortable with the language of the alert, she said.

Kinne first sent a campus alert e-mail on the morning of Jan. 17 that notified community members of an incident reported the previous evening.

A woman had called Safety and Security and said that an "unknown male" entered her dorm room and proceeded to "push her down" and pull off her pants, Kinne wrote in the e-mail. The attacker fled after the victim shouted and kicked, according to the campus alert.

Hanover Police and Safety and Security responded to the incident, the e-mail said.

Although the first e-mail said that the incident occurred in the residence hall room of the woman who reported it, Kinne declined to reveal whether the woman was a Dartmouth student. Kinne said he did not know if the alleged assailant was a Dartmouth student or not, as the person reporting it "did not have any idea" who the man was. Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone said the individual who filed the report was a College student, the Union Leader reported.

Safety and Security has received e-mails from community members inquiring about the incident, but Kinne said he has been out of the office and unable to respond to the messages.

Kinne said he wanted to inform campus that this incident would not affect the way Safety and Security handled calls of this nature.

"I want to make sure that we reassure people on the campus that we will take the call seriously," he said. "Anyone reporting an incident to Safety and Security would be encouraged to report any crimes to us."

Safety and Security will continue to take all necessary measures to help callers, Kinne said.

"We will do everything we can," he said.

Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone could not be reached for comment by press time.

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