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Mason says she learned of Gray case when investigation started

[ 0 ] November 19, 2012 |

University of Iowa president Sally Mason said she and athletic director Gary Barta learned that an academic adviser was being investigated for alleged sexual harassment about three and a half weeks before he resigned.

Mason said in a telephone interview today with the Des Moines Register that Peter Gray, an adviser in the athletic department, was immediately placed on leave until he resigned Nov. 5.

The comments provided the first detailed picture of the timeline involving the investigation into Gray — and when top administrators at Iowa became aware.

“There was a complaint filed in early October,” Mason said. “I didn’t ask who made the complaint and I don’t know who made the complaint. Once a complaint is filed, though, our policies trigger an investigation.”

A UI investigative report obtained by the Iowa City Press-Citizen showed contends Gray provided football tickets and money for sexual favors and inappropriately touched student-athletes.

Gray, who worked for Iowa from 1993-95 and again from 2002 until early this month, conducted one-on-one counseling this semester with members of the women’s basketball, men’s golf, and men’s and women’s swimming teams.

Mason said the report outlines clear concerns, but she has not had a conversation with Gray since the investigation’s conclusion.

“I didn’t ask Peter Gray why he left,” Mason said. “I don’t think anyone’s asked him why he left, so I can’t comment on that. I read the report just as you have, and it certainly says it was a violation of sexual-harassment policy.”

Mason was asked if her own recent inquiry, which led to changes that included new oversight of the compliance and student services departments in athletics, found anything to contradict the findings of the initial report.

“No. Nothing is at odds with the report,” Mason said.

The most concerning element of the report and post-report research was the lapse in timely reporting of concerns, Mason said.

Mason previously introduced sexual-harassment training for all employees and standing UI policy outlines mandatory reporting of all complaints to campus officials.

“We don’t think there are many lapses in this, but obviously there were lapses,” she said. “That’s very disturbing to me. Those situations could potentially lead to serious harm. That’s the reason we have the training in the first place.”

When asked why Gray was allowed to resign after completion of the report, rather than be disciplined, Mason cited due process.

“When a complaint is filed, what we typically do, the individual is placed on leave and is no longer in the workplace so no further harm or incidents can occur — then you go from there,” Mason said.

“Beyond that, I’m not going to speak about a personnel record, since it’s against an Iowa statute.”

Iowa law, some attorneys argue, allows for disclosure of employee information in situations like this — at the discretion of leadership such as Iowa’s president.

“My lawyers are telling me something very different,” Mason said. “So at this time, I guess we’re going to have to disagree on that one.”

Employee rights, Mason said, also mean no decisions have been made in relation to possible leave, suspension or termination of other employees.

“Right now, we’re in the process of due process,” Mason said. “So not yet.”

Read more on this story later today on DesMoinesRegister.com — and in Tuesday’s Des Moines Register.

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