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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bernsen says he’s cleared of charges

    TIMELINE

    Tuesday, Nov. 29
    Two ASUA student officials file reports claiming they were sexually harassed by Bernsen.

    Wednesday, Nov. 30
    ASUA Senate announces it will hold an impeachment hearing on Dec. 7. Bernsen releases a statement claiming his innocence.

    Thursday, Dec. 1
    Bernsen is absent from the Arizona Board of Regents meeting, an impeachable offense.

    Friday, Dec. 2
    Bernsen is again absent from the Arizona Board of Regents meeting. Bernsen’s ex-chief of staff and roommate Tyler Carrell resigns from his position as Elections Commissioner.

    Thursday, Dec. 6
    ASUA Senate delays impeachment hearing indefinitely due to a technicality in the ASUA constitution.

    Tuesday, Dec. 10
    Bernsen fires five student officials – three ASA directors and two cabinet members – for “”spreading lies”” concerning the sexual harassment complaints against him. Bernsen and the five officials file complaints with the Dean of Students Office.

    Wednesday, Jan. 11
    The five student officials are reinstated by acting student body president Erin Hertzog.

    Thursday, Feb. 16
    ASUA legal advisor Isaac Crum presents findings of ASUA inquiry against Bernsen. The report found Bernsen was absent from several mandatory meetings and had threatened to fire several members of his staff.

    Thursday, March. 23
    Bernsen sent out e-mails saying the dean of students investigation was over and he had been dismissed of all charges.

    Student body president Cade Bernsen has been circulating e-mails over the past week saying that he has been cleared of sexual assault and indecent exposure charges, though the Dean of Students Office could not confirm the information.

    Bernsen, who has been on a paid leave of absence stemming from sexual harassment and office misconduct complaints filed in November, said the Dean of Students Office gave him verbal confirmation that the charges were dropped and that he didn’t receive any documentation.

    Veda Kowalski, associate dean of students, couldn’t confirm or deny whether any charges against Bernsen had been dropped or whether the investigation had concluded, citing federal privacy laws.

    Bernsen still remained on a paid leave of absence yesterday and it wasn’t clear if or when he might return to office. Also unclear was whether the complaints of sexual harassment had been dismissed.

    When any case that comes before the Dean of Students Office is settled, the student involved is notified verbally and given written documentation, Kowalski said.

    “”The student of which the complaint is held against is notified in person and in writing,”” Kowalski said.

    Kowalski also said that according to federal privacy law, any verbal exchange or written documentation regarding an investigation could be made public once the student involved consents to its release.

    Student consent would also allow Kowalksi to talk about an investigation, she said.

    The Arizona Daily Wildcat has been trying to get documentation on the dismissal of the charges all week to verify what Bernsen wrote, said Aaron Mackey, Wildcat editor in chief.

    As of press time, repeated attempts to learn through Bernsen and his attorney whether consent had been given or if there were plans to release the information in the future were unsuccessful.

    Bernsen did not return follow-up phone calls.

    Acting Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog said Bernsen’s e-mail was the only place she heard of the investigation’s conclusion, but she plans to serve as president as long as needed.

    “”The advisers will tell me when and if he will come back,”” Hertzog said.

    ASUA adviser Jim Drnek said he had heard about Bernsen’s e-mail, dated March 23, but had not received it personally.

    “”I was made aware of that,”” Drnek said. “”Someone brought me a copy of the e-mail Cade sent out. Aside from this, I don’t know the status of the investigation.””

    Drnek said Bernsen is still on a paid leave of absence. The ASUA President makes $6,700 per year and is paid bi-monthly from June through May.

    ASUA Treasurer Keven Barker also said Bernsen is still on a leave of absence.

    The student of which the complaint is held against is notified in person and in writing.

    – Veda Kowalski,
    associate dean of students

    Barker said to his knowledge, the investigation has concluded but added the Dean of Students Office will not release the information publicly.

    In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Bernsen is the only person who could give consent to the Dean of Students Office for the report to be made public.

    “”FERPA protects educational records,”” Kowalski said. “”And disciplinary records are deemed educational records.””

    There would be no way to keep a student from saying whatever he wanted about the outcome of an investigation, Kowalski said.

    “”It’s up to anyone to be truthful and be honest, with whatever their experience, but I can’t mandate that,”” Kowalski said.

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