A settlement of $850,000 from a 2004 rape case has resulted in reform of sexual harassment and misconduct response policies at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. An unnamed victim accused student-athlete Darnel Henderson of rape in 2004 and filed a lawsuit alleging that Arizona State had “placed her in a dangerous position,” ESPN reported. Henderson had previously been expelled after being accused of rape, sexual harassment, and exposing himself and was then readmitted at the request of the head football coach. Despite a campus police investigation that determined rape had occurred in the 2004 incident, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office did not prosecute, reported The Arizona Republic.
As a result of the settlement, a new Office of Student Safety will document and report statewide university responses to reports of sexual harassment and assault. One key term of the settlement requires the appointment of a high-level security officer at each university who will not only meet with students, but will also spearhead reform after reviewing current policies related to sexual harassment and assault, according to The Arizona Republic.
Diane Rosenfeld, an expert on women’s violence issues and lecturer at Harvard Law School, told ESPN that “this could be our turning point. Instead of privileging athletes, we will now approach the goal of a culture of sexual respect.” She believes other schools will respond to the Arizona State case with increased vigilance about sexual harassment and assault.