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Newly released records: Deputy wanted BYU Honor Code Office to investigate alleged rape victim

Published May 18, 2016 9:57 am

BYU Honor Code probe • Utah County sheriff says officer was "misguided," but his motive wasn't retaliation.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah County sheriff's Deputy Edwin Randolph didn't believe Madi Barney.

Weeks after the Brigham Young University student reported she was sexually assaulted, Randolph was alerting university staff to the rape case — and to his own skepticism.

Barney "wants to screw up [the suspect's] life," Randolph told them, according to a Provo detective's summary of notes taken by the school's Title IX coordinators.



Her allegation was "bull crap," Randolph later told the detective in a January interview.

The Salt Lake Tribune previously reported that segments of that recorded interview were inaudible, indicating that Randolph may have given additional reasons for his meeting at BYU. A better copy of that recording and other public records recently released to The Tribune reveal that Randolph consistently stated his intent: He had hoped the school's Honor Code Office would get the truth out of Barney.

Others have since offered conflicting explanations. Randolph's attorney has said his client hoped the school would investigate the behavior of male students; Randolph's boss, Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy, has said Randolph wanted to prevent attacks against female students he cared about as a volunteer track coach at the Mormon school.

Neither account explains Randolph's focus on and repeated criticism of Barney to Detective Martin Webb and the BYU staffers.

During a half-hour interview at his home with Webb, Randolph spent less than a minute expressing his concerns about anyone other than Barney and the accused, 39-year-old Nasiru Seidu.

Randolph also told Webb that a Title IX employee at the BYU meeting warned him that he might get in trouble by involving himself in an active rape prosecution.

"I said, 'There's no trouble here,' " Randolph recalled to Webb, and said he added: "I think somebody's doing something that needs to be questioned. She goes to BYU and lives in BYU housing and [is] playing around and doing all this stupid stuff — I think it's a problem."

Webb asked Randolph what he thought would happen to Barney after he gave to BYU pages from the rape case file.

"Sometimes they'll suspend you," Randolph replied. "Sometimes they'll kick you out of school."

Randolph's tip did trigger an Honor Code investigation of Barney. Although the prosecutor in the rape case asked BYU to delay its probe until the criminal case is resolved, Barney said the school refused and blocked her from enrolling for this fall.

The Tribune generally doesn't name sexual assault victims, but Barney has agreed to be identified.

While a witness retaliation charge against Randolph has been dismissed, Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training investigators now are evaluating whether he committed misconduct that affects his certification to enforce the law.

'He does not understand the law' • Randolph told Webb he had met Seidu once, at a celebration of Ghana's independence, before Seidu was accused of raping Barney in her off-campus apartment.

His visit with Seidu at the county jail was prompted by supervisors' concern that the inmate was suicidal and may not have understood English well enough to comprehend his situation, Tracy said. Randolph and Seidu both are from Ghana.

Randolph, 46, has tried to help fellow Africans find work and housing in Utah since enrolling at BYU and running track in the early 1990s, said Jomo Bentil, who is acquainted with Randolph and Seidu and accompanied Randolph to his meeting with Title IX coordinators.

Just as long, Bentil said, Randolph has stressed the importance of abiding by the Honor Code at the school, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The code includes the school's regulations about appearance and its bans on alcohol and premarital sex. Bentil said Randolph was once in an apartment with teammates when "a young lady appeared with not too much on" and he "ran in the opposite direction."

Randolph told Webb that Seidu, who does not attend BYU, gave Randolph a copy of the Provo police report after Seidu's release on bail in November. Randolph later told Webb it was his own idea to inform BYU's Honor Code Office. They referred him to BYU's Title IX Office, charged with enforcing a federal law that guarantees students don't face hostility on campus based on their sex.

Tracy said Randolph "has cultural and communication issues with what he does and says. ... His reasoning and what he thought some of the outcomes would be don't make sense to me."

The pages Randolph gave to BYU, the prosecutor in the rape case has since said, were not public documents and are "paperwork that lawfully they shouldn't have."

While Randolph has worked in the department for 18 years, Tracy said his law enforcement certifications limit him to being a jailer and give him little knowledge of laws, federal codes and regulations — or what constitutes a restricted document.

"He is in law enforcement; he's a correctional deputy," Tracy said. "[But] he does not understand the law. He's not in the enforcement side. … He doesn't understand any of that."

Yet Randolph told Webb he'd met Seidu, reviewed the police report and felt sure Seidu was innocent.

During Webb's January interview, Randolph mentioned the name of one male student, but he did not comment further. Randolph chiefly criticized Barney's behavior and listed his reasons for his suspicions.

Those reasons include Seidu's claims that Barney reported the rape after she discovered Seidu had lied about his age and about being married, and that her roommates had threatened to turn her in to the Honor Code Office. Prosecutors, however, are continuing toward trial on the rape case, with evidence that includes Seidu admitting to the sexual assault during a recorded phone conversation with Barney.

Webb also interviewed the two people who went with Randolph to the Title IX meeting: Bentil, who said he "basically went along for the ride" but told BYU staffers he hoped they could uncover the truth; and a woman who works for BYU, who said she is loosely acquainted with Seidu, and helped set up the meeting.

Both told Webb they thought the impetus for the visit was Randolph's doubt about Barney's account.

'Of all people ...' • Webb had begun investigating criminal claims of witness retaliation after Barney reported that BYU told her someone had given the rape case file to the school's Title IX Office.

Alerted to Provo's investigation, internal affairs investigators with the sheriff's office began to explore whether Randolph had violated department rules. They interviewed Randolph under a Garrity warning — which meant as long as he answered truthfully, he could explain his actions without the risk of incriminating himself in any criminal investigation.

Tracy said the key to understanding Randolph's "misguided" intent in going to BYU lies in his answers — blacked out in a copy of the disciplinary report provided to The Tribune — to more detailed questions from internal affairs. The county attorney's office asserts that particular information is confidential because it's related to an allegation of misconduct that was "not sustained."

Tracy said he's frustrated that the information can't be released, but he said Randolph was worried about female athletes being targeted for sexual assaults.

It's not known whether Randolph raised that issue with BYU; Webb's summary of the Title IX coordinators' notes show no mention of Randolph's concern for women's safety. Webb declined to give more specific details about the coordinators' notes, and a Tribune public records request for those notes was denied.

It's also not clear why Randolph wasn't able to communicate the purpose he described in the Garrity interview to Webb, who had repeatedly quizzed Randolph about his intent.

Randolph, through his attorney, declined comment for this story.

Randolph was charged with third-degree-felony witness retaliation on Feb. 19. Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said the initial charge was appropriate, based on Webb's evidence.

But Buhman said based on the "more expansive" internal affairs interview, he decided to ask a judge to dismiss the criminal charge four days after it was filed.

Randolph eventually was suspended for two days for violating department policy by "maintaining an ongoing relationship with an ex-inmate who was under the supervision of the courts for a felony charge."

He has also been disciplined two other times since 2009 for accidentally pepper-spraying a group of inmates who were playing cards, according to internal affairs reports, and for leaving a door open to a mental health dorm and allowing an inmate to leave the secure area.

Barney said she doesn't know the rationale Randolph offered while he had immunity. His interview with Webb, played during a preliminary hearing for Seidu, "was a whole recording of Randolph calling me disgusting things and [saying] that I deserve to be punished," she said.

The dismissal left her feeling "betrayed," she said.

"Of all people, I should be the one to understand what happens."

jmiller@sltrib.com

mpiper@sltrib.com

Tribune reporters Nate Carlisle and Annie Knox contributed to this story

 

 

 

 

 

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