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Utah News

USU police chief resigns after comments to student athletes about sexual assault

Earl Morris smiles in uniform.
Herald Journal

A lawsuit against USU filed this week on behalf of a student who reported a rape to USU two years ago, alleges the university repeatedly mishandled cases of sexual assault on campus and failed to investigate known misconduct.

Also included in the lawsuit are allegations that cite recorded meetings on August 21 this year, that state USU and Logan police officials gave their personal cell phone numbers to players in the event those players found themselves in criminal trouble. It also alleges the campus police chief told them how to prevent allegations of nonconsensual sex in a primarily Latter-day Saint community.

According to USU, the university was made aware of those recorded comments earlier this week and the police chief was placed on administrative leave while USU looked into confirmation of those comments. Morris resigned Thursday and Kent Harris, a member of the USU police for the past 12 years has been appointed interim director of Public Safety and police chief.

USU released a statement Wednesday in response to the allegations of the lawsuit, which says “the university recognizes this is a very serious matter and will take further action to ensure students are treated equitably when misconduct occurs and that survivors feel supported. The leader of the university’s police department must have the trust of the campus community.”

It goes on to state that “the recorded comments are not consistent with the university’s values or the trainings provided on sexual misconduct at Utah State, nor do they reflect USU’s efforts to prevent sexual misconduct and reduce barriers to reporting. Students and employees should feel confident that when they report sexual misconduct, the university will respond without bias.”

The full statement can be found online at usu.edu.