Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
February 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Five allegations of unwanted sexual touching emerge against former temporary male College employee

The suspect — who has not been publicly identified — is under investigation for touching five female College students in the same day, and was immediately fired in light of the allegations.

2f1d2405-b5f8-426e-a4d5-2be2f5575f22.sized-1000x1000.jpg

On Jan. 25, five female Dartmouth students came forward with accusations of unwanted sexual touching on campus by a temporary Dartmouth employee, according to director of the Department of Safety and Security Keiselim Montás. The Hanover Police Department has identified the suspect and is now reinterviewing the victims to identify a charge and compile proof to present in court, according to Hanover Police lieutenant Michael Schibuola.

“We’re going back and reinterviewing the victims and then trying to make sure to connect the dots and make sure the suspect is actually the same person involved in every incident,” Schibuola said. “We’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened, what the intentions [were]. There’s some minutiae that goes through it to make sure we got the right person, we got the right crime, to move our charges forward.”

Victims reporting incidents of harm is a critical part of ensuring safety on campus, Montás said. 

“I’m glad that, first and foremost, our community came forward with all of these [reports] because, if they did not, then we don’t know what we don’t know,” Montás said. “We were able to expeditiously act upon this and put a stop to it. With the community working with us, we are most effective.” 

The suspect is a male between the ages of 17 and 21, and he was immediately fired and removed from campus in light of the allegations, according to Schibuola and Montás. 

Schibuola said that the suspect held a non-academic position at the College that did not regularly interact with students. He added that at least one of the incidents occurred when the suspect was on the way to work and at least one occurred while he was at work at Dartmouth.

Safety and Security was notified of one of the attacks later in the day, and at least two accounts of misconduct were reported before Montás and Dean Scott Brown chose to send a campus-wide email to notify students last Wednesday.

“Although we had identified and removed the individual, perhaps there were other people that had not come forward, so we wanted to open up an avenue for people to be able to do that,” Montás said. “[We wanted] to dispel rumors that tend to scare people when they don’t have factual information.” 

After initial interviews with the victims — all of whom are female Dartmouth students — the Hanover Police Department said it worked with Safety and Security to identify a suspect, Schibuola said. One of the incidents was caught on a downtown area surveillance camera, and officials were able to use the footage to capture the perpetrator’s physical characteristics, which Montás said helped the police to identify the suspect. According to past reporting by The Dartmouth, at least four of the incidents occurred between the downtown area of Hanover and the Collis Center for Student Involvement.

When one of the acts of “unwanted sexual touching” occurred, the suspect was wearing a Dartmouth garment, Montás said, which made it easier for Safety and Security to determine that he was affiliated with the College. 

Montás and Schibuola both stressed the importance of victims coming forward if they have experienced a similar incident. 

“If somebody comes forward to the Hanover Police Department that is a member of the community, we want to make sure that students feel comfortable so that we could arrange for them to meet with the police,” Montás said.

Title IX Coordinator Kristi Clemens said that the swift action on behalf of the College was indicative of a changing culture around sexual assault. 

“It’s a sign that our community has faith that we will be responsive to their complaints and be able to provide support,” Clemens said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that the prevalence is higher, but it means that people feel comfortable and have trust in the institution to say something.”

Montás said that this case was an anomaly and a similar incident had not occurred in his 16 years at the College. 

“I don’t think something like that could happen and we would not hear about it,” he said. 

While Clemens said that the Title IX office focuses on responding to reports, Safety and Security works on the preventative side with student groups like the Sexual Violence Prevention Project. Safety and Security wants to address these incidents “by being present” and “responding as soon as we possibly can,” according to Montás. 

“The takeaway for me is that people are comfortable speaking up when something wrong and harmful occurs on campus,” Clemens said. “We were able to demonstrate that we can take swift action to interrupt that behavior, and so I hope that people continue to report harm.”