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Iowa State NROTC unit dismisses midshipman after accusations of falsifying sexual assault

isdAn Iowa State student has been dismissed from the university’s Naval ROTC program after an altercation in July during which he said he was physically and sexually assaulted.

The student, whose name has been redacted because of the Iowa State Daily’s policy to not reveal names of sexual assault victims, said he was assaulted at a family celebration on July 4, 2016 by a high school acquaintance.

His dismissal follows two Performance Review Board (PRB) sessions in which the board concluded that because of an integrity violation on the fault of the student – because he lied to his superior officers about the specificity of his injuries – he should be dismissed from the program.

According to documents obtained by the Iowa State Daily, the student “possessed many of the attributes” desired in a Marine Corps officer candidate and he is “reliable, disciplined, intelligent and physically fit,” Capt. Scott Curtis, commanding officer of the NROTC unit, wrote in a letter to the Commander of the Naval Science Training Command recommending the student’s disenrollment from the program.

“If not for questions regarding his character and integrity associated with the events that led him to this board, he would serve as a superb example to aspiring Marines in the Iowa State NROTC,” Curtis wrote.

The student, because of his dismissal from the program, is required to pay back 2.5 years of out-of-state tuition and stipends.

The university has launched an investigation into the incident.

The student said he was sexually and physically assaulted on July 4, 2016 after a family gathering in which alcohol was consumed underage. He said his high school acquaintance, 19, had been rubbing his genitals and inner legs with a beer bottle against his wishes. Pushing the acquaintance away, the student was then hit on the head with a glass bottle.

According to a Nebraska police report after the incident occurred, the student went to the hospital in need of several stitches to his face. The alleged perpetrator, according to the report, said that he instead hit the student over the head in self defense, however, after the student assaulted him for no reason.

At the hospital, the student neglected to cooperate with police or pursue charges.

As defined under military rules, inappropriate touching is considered sexual assault.

The student did not initially tell the NROTC program about the assault after it occurred, and instead said his injuries were the result of a work-related incident out of embarrassment of being sexually assaulted.

This is something Curtis, according to the letter, believes to be false as the NROTC suggested the assault was being used to deflect responsibility for underage drinking and the fight that occurred.

“That being said, it is my judgement that the alleged sexual assault testimony is being used by [the student's attorney] in an attempt to exploit a highly sensitive issue to deflect accountability [for the student's] actions,” Curtis wrote.

Integrity, as defined by the leadership traits listed in the NROTC policy manual is, “when you give your word, keep it.”

The student had faced previous discipline for underage drinking by the NROTC unit after a public intoxication citation in the fall 2015. However, his probation was lifted by the previous commanding officer on May 10, 2016 – 54 days before the incident on July 4.

The student, according to documents, said that he first told the NROTC unit about the incident during a meeting in August 2016 with Cpt. Suzanne Mulet on Aug. 22, 2016 where she confronted him about the validity of his story as the unit had launched a review after receiving a call about the initial incident from the sheriff’s office.

Questioning the student’s integrity, Mulet, according to documents, told the student that “since he lied, he would get a PRB.”

Sean Timmons, the student’s attorney with Tully Rinckey PLLC based out of Albany, New York, said his client is still pending a disposition from the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, and that they are hopeful “the exposure of Iowa State’s [NROTC] numerous issues will result in relief for our client.”

“My client was a victim of a male-on-male sexual assault, which they pretty much laughed at when he reported it,” Timmons said. “Their narrative of the story… is that he simply was involved in a alcohol-induced fight. There’s no evidence to support that.”

Curtis said that he, nor any members of his staff, is authorized to comment on the matter.

 

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