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A corrections officer accused of retaliating against a Brigham Young University student who reported a rape may face a review from Utah's police regulators, even though the retaliation charge has been dropped, Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said.
The officer, Edwin Randolph, said he took police reports about the rape to campus administrators in an effort to help female athletes, Tracy said.
That explanation appears to contradict evidence gathered by Provo police. The pages Randolph gave to BYU included details about the woman's medical exam after the alleged rape, for example; how the release of such information could arguably help female athletes is unclear. The school began an Honor Code investigation into the conduct of the woman, who is not a student-athlete, after receiving the documents.
Randolph was disciplined for violating a sheriff's office policy, but not in connection with the disclosure, Tracy said. He said he believes Randolph never intended to retaliate against the student and should not have been charged.
"There was some judgment that probably was not the best in the world and created some problems, there were no doubts about that, but it was not criminal," Tracy said.
Tracy is the chairman of the governing council of Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, which investigates misconduct by law enforcement officers. He said his office forwarded the Randolph matter to POST Monday.
Because Provo police recommended criminal charges against Randolph, POST investigators likely will conduct their own inquiry. POST can take action against officers even when there is no criminal prosecution.
Randolph's conduct emerged as part of a broader discussion about how BYU handles sexual assault reports and the Honor Code at the private school, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its Honor Code Office enforces a dress code and bans alcohol, drugs and premarital sex. Some women recently have come forward to say they faced school sanctions for Honor Code violations after they reported being sexually assaulted.
'He cares about these girls' • Randolph and Nasiru Seidu, the defendant in the rape case, were charged in February with felony witness retaliation against BYU student Madi Barney after Randolph gave BYU more than 20 pages of the Provo police file.
Seidu, 39, is not a student at BYU. The school began investigating Barney, and she says she is forbidden from enrolling in classes until she cooperates something prosecutors have advised against. The Tribune generally doesn't name sexual assault victims, but she agreed to be identified.
Less than a week after the charge against Randolph was filed, Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman asked a judge to dismiss it.
Tracy declined to answer certain questions about his office's internal investigation into Randolph, saying the report's contents may not be public under state law and that he didn't want to interfere in the prosecution of Seidu.
Randolph and Seidu are both from Ghana and are acquaintances through their connections in Utah County's Ghanese community, the sheriff said. A friend of Seidu's gave Randolph the report, he said. Randolph, who has coached women's track at BYU, was concerned the actions described in the report were an example of a woman being targeted, Tracy said.
Randolph and Seidu's friend took it to BYU's Title IX office, which ensures compliance with a federal mandate to provide equal education and services for men and women. Randolph wanted to talk to the office about preventing attacks against women, Tracy said.
"He cares about these girls he's mentored over the years in track and he hates to see them victimized," Tracy said.
Neither Tracy nor Buhman have discussed how they reconciled this explanation from Randolph with conflicting accounts. Prosecutors wrote in court documents that Seidu's defense attorney said Randolph gave the file to BYU to initiate Honor Code action against Barney.
Provo detectives also recorded an interview, included in court records, in which Randolph repeatedly said he was troubled by Barney's behavior and described taking her case file to the Honor Code Office, not Title IX investigators. However, much of the interview is inaudible.
And last week, a statement from Randolph's attorney said that Randolph "intended that BYU investigate male students, particularly male athletes, who may have victimized women or otherwise violated BYU standards regarding sexual conduct."
Attorney Jeremy Jones this week said the police interview recording is not "a full or fair characterization of my client's intent." He said he was not authorized to elaborate.
"The hope is that some of this stuff is going to become more clear as the rest of this story develops in its own right," Jones said. "I get that it's a little bit cryptic."
Restricting reports • Tracy said when Provo police investigated Randolph, detectives didn't ask or Randolph didn't answer certain questions explaining why Randolph took the report to BYU.
But during the internal investigation, the sheriff's office issued Randolph what's known in law enforcement as a Garrity warning, which meant as long as Randolph answered truthfully, he could answer questions without the risk of incriminating himself in the criminal case.
The internal investigation report was not forwarded to the prosecutor in Randolph's witness retaliation case, but it was sent to Buhman. Tracy said Buhman read the report and decided to drop the criminal charge.
The sheriff's office does not have a practice of sharing investigative reports with BYU, Tracy said, nor are office personnel allowed to share such reports with people outside of law enforcement without permission from administrators. However, Tracy said, since Randolph did not access or print the report from sheriff's offices computers, he was not in violation of that policy.
Instead, the investigation discovered another policy Randolph violated that had nothing to do with the rape report, Tracy said. He declined to specify that policy. He said Randolph was disciplined "rather harshly" but was not fired.
Tracy said he plans to amend the information sharing policy to specify that such reports are not to be shared with higher education institutions unless their police forces need them.
Tribune reporter Matt Piper contributed to this report.
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The Honor Code and sexual assault at BYU
Tell the Tribune: Have you or someone you know experienced a sexual assault at BYU?
April 15 • Deputy Utah County Attorney Craig Johnson says BYU jeopardizes a pending rape prosecution because the Honor Code Office after obtaining the police file from a Utah County sheriff's deputy who knew the suspect refuses to delay its own case against the alleged victim.
April 15 • Utah County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman counters his prosecutor's opinion that BYU's Honor Code Office was threatening a pending rape prosecution with its probe into the victim's actions. Buhman said he dropped a witness retaliation charge against a Utah County sheriff's deputy because of information he learned from an inadmissible internal affairs investigation.
April 18 • BYU said its Title IX investigators, charged with protecting students from sex discrimination, sometimes refer sexual assault victims to the Honor Code Office for investigation of their conduct, and announces that it will review "potential structural changes" in light of public concern.