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University of Calgary says it’s ‘not safe’ for Connor Neurauter on campus
Published Friday, January 12, 2018 12:21PM MST
Last Updated Friday, January 12, 2018 6:32PM MST
Administrators at the University of Calgary say that Connor Neurauter, a student convicted of sexual interference, has been told not to return to the school and will be escorted off the property for his own protection should he try to return.
Neurauter, 21, pleaded guilty to sexual interference in a B.C. court earlier this month in connection with an incident involving a minor in his hometown of Kamloops.
As a condition of the plea deal offered by the prosecutor, Neurauter was told he would be allowed to commence his 90-day sentence on May 4, once the semester was completed.
However, an online petition gathered approximately 47,000 signatures from students calling for the young man’s immediate expulsion from the school.
Now, staff says that the situation has gotten so bad that it would be unsafe for Neurauter anywhere on the campus grounds.
Dru Marshall, a representative of the U of C, says that the decision was made to ensure the safety of students and Neurauter himself.
“We know that victims of sexual violence and consent may have been triggered by this incident. We are also worried about his safety, given some of the commentary on social media and so we have advised, based on all of our assessments that he should not return to campus this term.”
She says that the school took into account a number of factors in making the decision.
“I would say that what was really important was for us to make a valued safe decision in this piece. We can’t be swayed by necessarily public opinion. There are a variety of things that are specific to the university environment but all of the factors were weighed.”
Marshall says that the school is in contact with Neurauter to determine what sort of alternate arrangements can be made to fulfill his schooling.
On Thursday evening, the University released a statement saying that there are no grounds to expel Neurauter because the incident took place before he was enrolled as a student.
Officials say that Neurauter hasn’t been at the campus since January 9.
Neurauter’s mother says he is in his second year, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry.
She told CTV on Wednesday that he hasn’t had a chance to defend himself yet.
“He pled guilty in an effort to minimize the impact on the victims as well as continue his schooling to improve himself,” said Susan Neurauter in an interview from her home in Kamloops.
She adds that he made some ‘very, very poor choices’ when he was younger and is undergoing counselling to get his life back on track.
The University of Calgary hasn’t said anything about what could happen if Neurauter decides to enroll for future terms at the school.
As for the University’s sexual violence policy, Marshall says that it is still relatively new.
“In June of 2017, we spent a considerable time developing that policy with considerable student involvement in particular. We agreed when we approved that policy that we would assess it two years down the road and we will stick to that timeline.”
Marshall also says that other incidents at schools across Canada have emphasized the importance of such policies.
“This is an important piece that we will continue to do. I also think, given the number of issues that are occurring across the country, it is probably time for a broader discussion on the roles that universities play related to sexual violence and sexual harassment.”
On Friday, Connor Neurauter's parents made the following statement in defence of their son:
We love and support our son. Since he was arrested he has done his best to be respectful of the legal system and the other individuals involved in this matter. We are disappointed in the distorted and sensationalistic coverage by the media and believe them to be entirely complicit in the attempts of one individual to crush a young man that has genuinely tried to do his best in this bad situation. We are proud of how are son has and continues to handle himself through the repercussions initiated by this woman, a neighbourhood bully who has known our son for many years, which has ultimately resulted in our son being persecuted and discriminated against.
We would like to profusely thank our friends and family for their support. Most of us remember being 18 and the challenges that were involved. This has been a nightmare for our family, one that none of us, but particularly our children, are not equipped to handle. We would not wish this situation on anyone, not even the woman responsible.
As our previous statements to the media have been skeletonized or ignored we will be making no further comments.
Please respect our privacy.
Chris and Susan Neurauter
(With files from Kathy Le)