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University of Calgary student encouraged to avoid campus following sexual interference conviction
Published Wednesday, January 10, 2018 6:45PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, January 11, 2018 5:19PM MST
After pleading guilty to a charge of sexual interference earlier this month, Connor Neurauter was sentenced to 90 days in jail but, as part of the plea bargain offered by the prosecution, the University of Calgary student would not be incarcerated until the current semester concludes.
Tthe 21-year-old’s time behind bars will commence on May 4 in connection with the offences that occurred in his home province of British Columbia. The victims were teenage girls.
While the decision to delay the start of Neurauter’s sentence has been highly scrutinized online and in the halls of the university, the creator of an online petition has gone a step further saying the University of Calgary is no place for the convicted sex offender. As of Wednesday afternoon, a petition on change.org calling for Neurauter’s expulsion from the school has garnered more than 24,000 signatures.
“I, and those who sign this petition, implore the University to take a stand against sexual violence and expel Connor Neurauter from school for violating the University of Calgary’s Sexual Violence Policy,” said Kaitlyn Casswell in the petition she created calling for the expulsion.
On campus on Wednesday, students voiced their displeasure with the fact Neurauter could return to classes.
“It’s a big slap in the face to the victim,” said Mandy Gillis, a U of C student. “Women on campus already have enough to worry about.”
“We shouldn’t have to be constantly looking over our shoulders or rushing to the bus stop.”
The sentiment was shared by U of C student Emily Huff. “I don’t think it’s fair to women or any of the other students here at U of C. It makes it feel like a much more unsafe place for everybody.”
The family of Connor Neurauter agrees there are legitimate safety concerns on campus but their worries centre on the welfare of the second year student who had been pursuing a bachelor of science in chemistry.
“He hasn’t had any opportunity to defend himself,” said Susan Neurauter, Connor’s mother, in a telephone interview with CTV. “He pled guilty in an effort to minimize the impact on the victims as well as continue his schooling to improve himself.”
According to Susan Neurauter, her son has not returned to classes following the winter break at the request of university officials.
“His program has started. They’ve asked him not to come to campus at this time,” explained Neurauter. “The person I’ve discussed this with at the University of Calgary tells me that people are looking at class lists and there are people waiting if he shows up.”
“The university is calling this a mob mentality and I have to agree. I just don’t think people are using common sense.”
Neurauter admits her son made some ‘very, very poor choices’ when he was 18 but says he is undergoing counselling and has been attempting to get his life back on track. She says the delay in the start of Connor’s sentence was part of the plea bargain offered by the prosecution.
“Frankly, we encouraged our son to take it,” said Neurauter. “I regret it now because we thought there would be less pressure on the girls, they wouldn’t have to testify. It was frustrating that he wasn’t going to get his say in court.”
“I don’t think it’s helpful to the girls that were involved either to have this kind of media attention. This is a small town. Lots of people know the names of the people involved.”
Neurauter says one of the victim’s mothers went to the media and ‘told a story that’s not necessarily factual’ and that decision jeopardized the intention of the plea bargain.
“They offered him this deal to ensure that he went to school,” said Neurauter. “To effectively have that removed because somebody’s mother decided that she didn’t like that deal is frustrating. It was part of the reason he took the deal.”
Neurauter is scheduled to begin his time in jail on May 4 in Kamloops, B.C.
In a statement released on Tuesday, University of Calgary officials confirmed Neurauter’s situation was being reviewed.
“We can confirm that Neurauter is not on the university campus this week. We will provide further information when it is available.”
“The University of Calgary is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for our campus community. The university has conduct, sexual violence and harassment policies in place, and extensive support services that provide a wide range of expertise and assistance to all community members. We are committed to providing support and resources to all members of our campus community who wish to access them.”