Two outside attorneys will assist UMN regents’ review of Gophers sex assault case

Jillian Kornblatt and John Marti will join Regents Tom Anderson, Peggy Lucas and Steve Sviggum to make up a committee charged with assessing how the University handled the September case.

The Universitys Board of Regents talk at a meeting on June 10, 2016.

Image by Zach Bielinski, Daily File Photo

The University’s Board of Regents talk at a meeting on June 10, 2016.

by Mike Hendrickson

Three members of
the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents have been appointed to a
committee that will review the school’s handling of a sexual assault case
involving Gophers football players.

The University
announced Monday that board Chair Dean Johnson selected regents Thomas Anderson,
Peggy Lucas and Steve Sviggum to oversee the internal review of the case.
Anderson will be the committee’s chair.

 “Allegations of sexual assault are serious and
the Board of Regents is committed to ensuring student safety across all University
campuses, as well as an appropriate process for all parties involved,” Johnson
said in a Monday news release. “We believe it is good governance to review
recent circumstances and to determine how we can improve processes for the
betterment of our students.”

The committee held its first public meeting Thursday, where the University of Minnesota named two outside attorneys to assess the school’s handling of the allegations made against the 10 football players. Former federal prosecutor John Marti and labor law specialist Jillian Kornblatt of Minneapolis’ Dorsey and Whitney law firm will contribute to the oversight committee. 

While a public report will be released,
there is no timeline for its release, according to the news release.

In March, Johnson
said regents would oversee a review of the school’s widely-criticized investigation
of a September sexual misconduct case involving a student and several football

The school’s
investigation and decision regarding the September sexual assault allegation
resulted in the expulsion of four players and a one-year suspension from the
school for one.

No criminal
charges were filed against the players relating to the alleged sexual assault.

The review will be
conducted by the University’s Office of the General Counsel. The University’s
Chief Auditor will provide “advice and assistance” as needed.

In the news
release, the University said it might also hire outside attorneys to assist the

The school’s handing of the
case included “inconsistent statements and descriptions of the events …
regarding the timing and basis for actions and decisions by the administration”
that “appear inconsistent with the Regents commitment to addressing the issue
of sexual assault on campus and protecting those who report sexual assault,”
Johnson said in March.

The committee will:

-Review practices
and policies regarding suspensions and discipline within Gophers athletics and
how they relates to the Student Conduct Code and criminal justice process.

-Review standard and
processes of the conduct code and how it relates and Title IX.

-Review practices
and rules for communication during the conduct code process, especially with
student athletes.

-Examine lessons learned
from the December boycott by the Gophers football team and a conduct a review of
how regents, coaches and administrators handled the situation.