Following a recent high profile sexual assault case, the Utah Department of Public Safety is now investigating Brigham Young University’s police department for how it handles and distributes its police reports, as well as how it accesses reports from other police agencies in Utah.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the paper has obtained documents which demonstrate, “how a BYU police lieutenant accessed a county-wide database of police records to collect information from another department for the school’s Honor Code investigation in at least one case.”
That case was the school’s Honor Code investigation of 19-year-old undergraduate, Madison Barney. In April, Barney told Jezebel that BYU had launched an investigation of her after she reported her off-campus rape to the Provo police. Barney never sought the university’s involvement, but she claims that the university looked into her activities (the Honor Code prohibits activities like pre-martial sex and doing drugs) after her police report was illegally obtained by the university.
BYU obtained Barney’s police report after Utah County Sheriff’s Deputy Edwin Randolph, a friend of her alleged rapist, forwarded the report to the university. Randolph was later charged with third-degree witness tampering. Those charges, however, were later dropped without prejudice.
Barney told Jezebel that Randolph’s actions were meant to be punitive and, she said, that BYU’s subsequent Honor Code investigation was “emboldening my rapist.” During the witness tampering investigation, Randolph practically acknowledged that his actions were meant to punish Barney. “I’m not here to judge her, but I think, she’s in school here and she’s screwing around,” Randolph told investigators. “When I was [a BYU student], we had guys get in trouble for this stuff, so I think it’s a problem.”
BYU has never made a direct statement about Barney’s case, though, earlier this month, the university launched a website seeking feedback from the community on how to better handle sexual assault cases on campus. But the documents obtained by The Tribune show that BYU accessed Barney’s police report through a county-wide system (called Spillman) before Randolph brought it to the school. The Tribune reports:
[...] the BYU documents, obtained by The Tribune and verified by Provo police, show that before Deputy Edwin Randolph brought the case file to the school, BYU police already had used the Spillman database to access those Provo police records — apparently at the behest of the Honor Code Office.
According to reports by an Honor Code investigator, or “counselor,” Randolph had called the Honor Code Office on Nov. 20, three days before he brought Barney’s case file to the school. The counselor wrote down numerous allegations Randolph made against Barney during that call. The counselor wrote in her report that on the same day, she asked BYU Police Lt. Aaron Rhoades to seek information on the rape case.
Logs from the records system show Rhoades accessed Barney’s case that day, Provo police reports state. According to an Honor Code Office report, Rhoades described viewing a “long police report with 3-4 supplements,” and he relayed details from the file to the counselor.
According to Utah’s Department of Public Safety, they are currently reviewing how BYU police have accessed the Spillman system. A DPS spokeswoman said that in addition to investigation how the university police use the system, it is also investigating how BYU’s police are sharing the reports.
In March, BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins told Jezebel that, “the victim of a sexual assault is not going to be referred to the Honor Code Office for being a victim of sexual assault.”
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