More questions than answers after review of student sexual assaultNeither the cops nor prosecutors out in Los Angeles know anything about some Wisconsin guy by the name of John Chadima — never got a complaint or a request for an investigation. Three different people in the police department and the district attorney’s office out there checked for me. They found nothing.
By: By Mike Nichols, Superior Telegram
Neither the cops nor prosecutors out in Los Angeles know anything about some Wisconsin guy by the name of John Chadima — never got a complaint or a request for an investigation. Three different people in the police department and the district attorney’s office out there checked for me.
They found nothing.
I helped them out a little, told them he was a University of Wisconsin Athletic Department official who allegedly sexually assaulted a UW student employee after throwing a party at a Marriott hotel the weekend of the Rose Bowl.
According to a “2012 Rose Bowl Incident Review” conducted by a small group appointed by the university, as everyone was leaving the party, Chadima asked one male student who worked for the Athletic Department to stay behind and have a drink with him. The student, according to the report, alleges that Chadima eventually removed the student’s belt “and then inserted his hand inside (the student’s) pants.” The student “was shocked and frightened.”
Chadima allegedly claimed he was joking, but also said he could have the student fired.
After leaving the room, the student knocked on the door of his supervisor at 3:15 a.m. and reported what happened. He didn’t however go to police in L.A., nor did anyone from the university — not then or ever.
I wondered why not.
“In this type of situation you are talking about a complaining witness who is an adult,” said former Dane County Judge Patrick Fiedler, who, at the behest of the university, headed up the review of the incident and the university’s response. “So it would be up to him as to whether he would contact law enforcement.”
Stephen Montagna, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, has no quibble with that.
“In this case, from what I read of it, (university officials) acted appropriately,” said Montagna. “They listened to the victim, which is key. They followed the victim’s wishes, which were not to deal with it until they returned to Madison.”
The alleged victim is not a child. He is 22, according to an attorney for Chadima, who has resigned. The student’s name has not been made public so we can only speculate why — after immediately reporting it that night — he decided, at least thus far, not to take the next step and report it to anyone outside UW.
Perhaps he just feared creating a report that could become public during a Rose Bowl broadcast reaching 17 million people.
Perhaps he was reluctant for other reasons. Hopefully, he wasn’t in any way dissuaded. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know for sure.
The decision may well have been the student’s alone, as Fiedler suggests. He is a Marquette Law grad and former Dane County judge as well as a former U.S. attorney, so he’s the best, most independent source.
But the review panel appointed by the university also included three former UW-Madison employees. Vince Sweeney, the university’s vice chancellor for university relations, told me everybody in the review group is at arm’s length from the school. Maybe, but those are some pretty short arms — complimentary too.
According to the report, the university’s response is “nearly a model of how we might hope all cases would be handled.”
Still, Rep. Steve Nass’s office has many of the same questions I do. Was the group that did the review sufficiently independent? How was a university official allowed to have parties replete with alcohol and students, some of whom were not even 21? Is there another shoe to drop?
So far, there have been no further allegations, said Sweeney. But, he said, the university is looking into the use of alcohol at off-campus events.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is not Penn State. Dane County, to be sure, is not Penn State’s so-called Happy Valley.
But until we find out a little more, we shouldn’t claim it’s paradise either.
Mike Nichols is a syndicated columnist who spent 18 years writing about Wisconsin for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is now a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. This column represents only his personal opinion. Contact him at MRNichols@wi.rr.com.