The hearings are over, the verdict is in, and after a two-month judicial process, Student Association President Audai Shakour has been cleared of sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations.
In a statement released to The Hatchet last month, Shakour thanked his friends and family members who showed support for him throughout the process, and said he was ready to move on. He holds the student government’s top spot until the end of spring semester.
“President Shakour expressed confidence throughout the process that he would not be found in violation, continually reemphasizing that these allegations held no truth,” the statement said.
But the female student who brought charges against Shakour insists that justice was not served and that he got off on a technicality. While Shakour was given an opportunity to respond to statements the female student made, he said the Dec. 19 release was “sufficient.” University officials do not typically comment on Student Judicial Services cases brought against individuals.
The female student, who still claims to be a victim of sexual harassment and wishes to remain anonymous, told The Hatchet that although Shakour faced charges of sexual assault, that wording was “pushing it” as a characterization of the events that took place, but she was given no choice in the language of the charges. The Hatchet does not identify people claiming to be victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
As the female student tells it, the story began in September, when after landing an unofficial position within Shakour’s cabinet, she began working on a project for the SA president. She said that while the two developed a collegial working relationship during the first two months of the semester, in the early morning of Oct. 21, she was invited by Shakour to his Ivory Tower room.
Shakour initially told The Hatchet that the alleged incident occurred Oct. 14, but the female and the University recognized the incident as occurring Oct. 21. The female said she felt coerced to visit Shakour, and she said he threatened to fire her on multiple occasions that night.
Taking no immediate action after the incident, the female became outraged when a week later in a meeting with a University official, Shakour canceled the program she had been working on, she said.
“He had never objected to my program before,” she said of Shakour. “He took it away, and a week before he told me that he could have fired me.”
After discussing the program’s termination and the Oct. 21 incident with her friends and family, she filed a sexual harassment report with SJS in the first week of November. The female went in to testify to SJS and was informed that Shakour had been charged with sexual assault and underage drinking in addition to sexual harassment, she said.
In a Nov. 13 interview with The Hatchet, Shakour categorically denied the allegations and vowed that he would be exonerated from them.
“These are allegations. They are untrue. It is one of the most unfair things that can happen to anyone. Anyone can make these allegations,” Shakour said on Nov. 13. He chose not to comment for this story.
After the Nov. 18 hearing, the female waited for a full week before contacting the University because she had not heard a verdict.
“They wouldn’t tell me anything,” the female recalled. “I knew they were taking time to do a thorough job, which I appreciate, but I just wanted to be informed.”
The female said she learned that Shakour had appealed a ruling on the sexual harassment charge and that she had to appear in front of a University hearing board in mid-December. At the second hearing, the female said Shakour had a lawyer who accompanied him. She said she was not informed of what the appeal was based on during the appeal hearing.
Less than a week after the second hearing, on Dec. 19, the female student learned that Shakour had been cleared of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations through an article on The Hatchet’s Web site.
The female said she got a call from SJS Director Tara Woolfson the night of Dec. 19 to inform her that Shakour’s appeal had been accepted because he was able to prove that she was not technically his employee.
The female said Shakour was convicted of a drinking violation but she was not told what his sanction for that charge would be.
“I basically got screwed on a technicality,” the female said. “I did everything in my power, but the truth did not come out.”
“I didn’t do it to get him. I did it because I’m afraid for other people on campus,” she added. SJS guidelines prevent her from refilling the same charges a second time.
The Code of Student Conduct states that sexual harassment is, among other definitions, defined as “submission to or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as a basis for a decision relating to the academic performance, advancement or employment of the person.” The female said Shakour appealed the decision by saying that she, as a student and unpaid SA member, was not his employee.
While SJS will not comment on specific cases or explain why the judicial process took more than a month, Woolfson, the SJS director, said “cases are heard in a timely manner to allow all parties involved ample time to prepare for the hearing.”
Woolfson said an appeal is based on “new information that is relevant to the case and not presented at the disciplinary hearing and that significantly alters the finding of fact.”