Posted Friday, August 17, 12:59 a.m.
Student Judicial Services found last year’s Student Association President Lamar Thorpe guilty of disorderly conduct for “lewd and indecent behavior,” and not guilty of sexual harassment and alcohol charges, according to SJS documents given to The Hatchet.
Thorpe declined to comment on the outcome of his case, only saying “what are you talking about?” when contacted by The Hatchet. In an interview last month, he said he has not “had any judicial proceedings going on” and called accounts to the contrary “great stories” generated by his enemies.
A female sophomore accused Thorpe and then-Vice President of Student Activities Richard Fowler of forcing her to perform oral sex and drink excessively in September 2006, a University Police Department Incident Report states. The report, which was filed on April 22, classifies the alleged offense as first-degree sexual abuse. Both Thorpe and Fowler have repeatedly said they are unaware of the alleged incident and of a case before SJS.
Thorpe, who is a presidential administrative fellow attending graduate school for free at GW this fall, lost an appeal to overturn the disorderly conduct charge, according to SJS records. A sanction letter states that his punishment is one year of disciplinary probation until May 2008.
“Based upon various standards and guidelines as established by campus organizations, departments, administrators, and/or faculty, conditions of your probation may include exclusion from co-curricular activities,” the letter states. “Violations of the terms of Disciplinary Probation or any other violations of this ‘Code’ during the period of probation may result in suspension or expulsion from the University.”
Senior Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak, whose department oversees the fellowship program, said that a student being on disciplinary probation is “not in conflict with being a PAF.”
When asked if there were any qualms about Thorpe serving in a prestigious role given his disciplinary record, Chernak said, “If we had a concern, he wouldn’t be in the program. Obviously, we don’t have a concern.”
Sophomore Jason Scheinthal, who was Thorpe’s senior counsel last spring, confirmed that the former SA president was cleared of the sexual harassment charge but said that it is not his place to discuss the outcome of the disorderly conduct violation.
An adviser and confidante to Thorpe, Scheinthal said the student leader did not want SJS charges to tarnish the reputation of the SA.
“Lamar’s immediate concern was that he didn’t want the Student Association to go through another scandal . I would say that throughout this entire thing – it wasn’t until the summer – that he was slightly concerned about himself, (rather only about the SA),” Scheinthal said.
Then-Vice President of Public Affairs Andrew Cooper was also listed in the UPD report. He said he left Thorpe’s room the night of the incident because he “didn’t agree with some of the things that were going on” and that SJS never charged him with any violations.
Because The Hatchet has not seen Fowler or Cooper’s judicial records, it is uncertain if the two rising juniors were ultimately charged with violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
SJS Director Tara W. Pereira declined to comment on any of the judicial proceedings because of University policy and federal law that precludes divulging information about student records. When provided with the records given to The Hatchet, Pereira did not respond. Media Relations Director Tracy Schario said, “The University has no comment on these documents.”
The alleged victim of Thorpe’s “lewd and indecent behavior” declined to comment, saying she is not supposed to speak about the case. The Hatchet is withholding the female student’s identity due to its policy of not naming individuals who have reported being victims of sexual crimes.
Fowler, who as SA Finance Chair oversees about $450,000 in student funds, cannot serve if he is on disciplinary probation. The process of checking SA officials’ disciplinary and academic records begins the first week of September, according to the SA bylaws.
Fowler refused comment last week, saying that he was “three or four seconds away from getting angry” in a telephone interview. Earlier this month, he said he has not been before SJS.
As a presidential administrative fellow, Thorpe will attend graduate school for women’s studies for free, get a stipend for living expenses and be paid to work in a high-level University office.
Disciplinary cases with serious charges typically go through the University Hearing Board process, in which up to five students determine if the accused is in violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Thorpe opted, instead, to have a disciplinary conference – a proceeding that gives a single administrator the power to determine guilt or innocence, according to records obtained by The Hatchet.
Thorpe’s disciplinary conference officer was Grace Henry, assistant director of the Student Activities Center for leadership, training and development, according to an SJS document. Henry said she knew Thorpe last year because she and her office interacted with him, as she said SAC does with all SA presidents. When asked if there was a conflict of interest in deciding the student leader’s case, Henry refused comment, citing SJS confidentiality policies.
Henry declined to confirm that she was part of the conference.
Thorpe was found in violation of disorderly conduct because he continued to encourage sexual acts with the victim, even as she continued to become more intoxicated, according to the Findings of Fact report.
“I believe it is more likely than not that Mr. Thorpe is in violation of this charge as his behavior was lewd and indecent,” the report obtained by The Hatchet states. “The lewd and indecent behavior is specifically evidenced by Mr. Thorpe’s orchestration of sexual activity between (the victim) and Mr. Fowler and the fact that others deemed that the exploits went too far.”
Thorpe was acquitted of sexual harassment, the Findings of Fact states, because the female sophomore said she went to Thorpe’s room expecting to have sex and said that she never felt threatened. Henry determined that Thorpe’s position as SA president had “no direct bearing” on his sexual activity with the student because he knew her before he was elected.
The report indicates that Thorpe was not found in violation of providing alcoholic beverages to underage students because he said he did not know they were underage and Fowler said the alcohol was his. Thorpe was 25 and the other three students were 19 at the time the complaint was reported to UPD, according to the Incident Report.
The Hatchet’s previous story on this topic can be found here.