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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bernsen probe draws out over entire spring semester

    The ASUA was characterized this year not by student-run projects or programs, but by the sexual harassment and misconduct accusations against student body president Cade Bernsen.

    The charges resulted in an investigation that stretched from November until late April.

    While the allegations of sexual assault and indecent exposure were thrown out, Bernsen was found guilty of sexually harassing four students while in office.

    While the investigation took place, activity within Associated Students of the University of Arizona offices was anything but business as usual.

    Accusations of secret meetings and conspiracy made by several members of ASUA confounded the organization’s next course of action.

    After the sexual harassment allegations were made public Nov. 29, the ASUA Senate announced it would hold an impeachment hearing on the last day of the semester.

    The hearing was postponed indefinitely however, due to a technicality in the ASUA constitution that stated that there must be at least two weeks left in the semester to pursue impeachment charges.

    Meanwhile, Bernsen was absent from the December Arizona Board of Regents meetings.

    At the same time, Elections Commissioner Tyler Carrell, Bernsen’s ex-chief of staff and roommate, resigned from his position but cited the move had nothing to do with the investigation.

    When classes reconvened for the spring semester, Bernsen fired five student officials – three ASA directors and two cabinet members – for “”spreading lies”” concerning the sexual harassment complaints against him.

    The five students and Bernsen filed complaints with the Dean of Students Office following the firing.

    The next day, Jan. 11, Bernsen agreed to take a paid leave of absence until the investigation was complete.

    The absence was supposed to last five days, but the leave of absence extended until the end of the semester, during which Bernsen collected an estimated $2,800 of pay.

    On March 20, the first signs of the progress of the investigation were shown when the Dean of Students Office threw out the charges of sexual assault and indecent exposure due to a lack of evidence.

    The investigation drew to a close near the end of April as the ASUA Senate unsuccessfully tried to censure Bernsen.

    On May 3, the public was made aware of the Dean of Students Office’s conclusion that Bernsen was guilty of sexually harassing four students during the past year.

    Bernsen and his attorney would not comment on anything related to ASUA or the investigation.

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