In a hideous bit of irony, the president-elect of a group for college administrators—a group that teaches them how to handle student misconduct cases, including sexual assault—says that her predecessor sexually assaulted her at a conference. Jill L. Creighton of NYU says Jason Casares of Indiana University assaulted her in December.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Creighton wrote that she was sexually assaulted by Casares in an open letter, which the publication also ran in full. The assault took place at a convention in Fort Worth, Texas in December, she wrote. Both Creighton and Casares belong to the Association for Student Conduct Administration, a group for college administrators who handle student misconduct cases.
Creighton alleges in the letter both that Casares assaulted her and that the ASCA has failed to protect her, allowing him to present, among other things, a panel on sexual misconduct investigations. She writes:
At the AFA convention in Fort Worth, TX in December, I made the mistake of letting my guard down while socializing with Jason about Association business. Jason took advantage of me after I had had too much to drink. I filed a criminal complaint with the police in Texas, and then decided that I felt unsafe in ASCA. I also could not stand the hypocrisy of Jason parading his expertise on Title IX, knowing how he had behaved with me. While I knew it could blow up in my face, and that I had nothing to gain but my own sense of safety, I asked ASCA to impeach Jason.
When Jason resigned, I was shocked to learn that he was still planning to attend the conference, and was still planning to present his sessions on Title IX, though several of his co-presenters have backed out of co-presenting with him. He is under criminal investigation for a sex offense, and ASCA is still allowing him to present. I needed a safe space, and to be able to attend this conference free of the hostile environment that his presence creates for me. ASCA has failed to protect me.
Casares was previously president of the ASCA; the board of directors confirmed to the Chronicle that he resigned on January 29. He’s also not just any college administrator: he is both the associate dean of students and IU’s deputy Title IX director, charged with helping to enforce the laws against gender discrimination in higher ed. Creighton is NYU’s assistant director of Global Community Standards.
Creighton said she filed a criminal complaint with the Fort Worth police. She also said she wouldn’t immediately take on her new role as president, as she needed more time to recover, and that she would demand that the ASCA “live up to its ideals:”
My story is my own, and I hope you use it to demand that ASCA live up to its ideals. I have a right to participate here. You elected me, and I want to be able to give my service to this Association without experiencing a hostile environment throughout the rest of my term and for as many years as I continue to be an active and dedicated member. If you see me during the conference, don’t avoid me. I may be upset, I may look defeated, I may even be crying, but I need your strength and support. I am here. I am not leaving. I can be both a survivor and your President-Elect.
I declined to take on the role of president right away, though the bylaws permitted it, as I still need time to heal, and to become more seasoned as a leader. I have taken a leave of absence from my role on the board and will remain on leave until I am ready to resume my duties. You will have my service as you have elected me to give, but there is no reason why Jason should be able to continue in this Association or this field in any way. I’ll be making that abundantly clear to the Board in the coming days, and I hope you will, too.
The ASCA, as the Huffington Post reports, said that Casares had resigned as president, but only after an internal investigation concluded that Creighton’s claims “could not be substantiated.”
IU has placed Casares on paid administrative leave while they investigate the allegations, the university said in a statement.
F. Anthony Paganelli, a lawyer for Casares, told both the Chronicle and HuffPost that Creighton’s allegations against his client are false:
Despite the outcome of the investigation, Ms. Creighton has made inappropriate and false public statements reasserting her claims against Mr. Casares over social media, and in person to attendees at an ASCA conference this week in Florida. In response, the ASCA promptly issued a strongly worded statement that included the following language: “Following a rigorous investigation, [the investigating law firm] determined that Ms. Creighton’s claims could not be substantiated.”
Paganelli also told HuffPost that he and Casares are “investigating the possibility” of legal action against Creighton.
Casares. Screengrab via WISH-TV