Student responsible for Miami rape flier pleads guilty - News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Student responsible for Miami rape flier pleads guilty

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A Miami student who posted a flier in a co-ed dorm bathroom titled 'The Top 10 Ways to Get Away with Rape' has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

The Butler County Prosecutor's Office says the man pled guilty to disorderly conduct, punishable by a fine of up to $100.

"His acceptance of responsibility is noteworthy in the face of contentious positions by those favoring or opposing any constitutional limits on the meaning of speech," said Prosecutor Michael Gmoser. "Authorship of outrageous words alone is usually not enough to remove constitutional protections.  The actual intent and context are all important as they were in the consideration of this case.  Fortunately, a forest of trees will not have to be turned into legal briefs to argue the issue to higher courts and no one was incited to cause injury."

Gmoser tells FOX19 he believes the public interest has been served and says the case was less about punishment and more about the student acknowledging guilt.

"…the now former student took responsibility for being book smart and socially stupid.  I expect the latter will change, as he has shown through his acceptance of responsibility for his words, that he can change for the better," Gmoser went on to say in a prepared statement.

Not all students, however, are convinced the punishment was harsh enough.

"It's very hard for me to accept that the maximum consequence or penalty he would have to pay… is 100 dollars," Kate Van Fossen told FOX19.

Van Fossen is the Vice President of WAVES, or Women Against Violence and Sexual Assault, on Miami's campus. Van Fossen was the one who initially posted the flier on Facebook to bring awareness to the situation.

"I'm thankful that it was just a flyer that stirred up all this buzz and not a tragic incident happening," Fossen said.

"It's a challenge in some ways but in other ways it's a real opportunity for us to rethink what we're doing to make sure we're doing everything we can and to really focus our efforts," Vice President of Student Affairs Barbara Jones told FOX19 Thursday.

A FOX19 investigation into university crime statistics found that reported sexual assaults on campus have ranged from four to thirteen incidents since 2008 and 11 so far in 2012.

FOX19 also confirmed that the university's sexual prevention coordinator staff position has been unfilled for over a year. Officials say it was difficult to hire for the position because it had previously been a part-time job with no benefits. University officials say they did decided to offer the position full-time with benefits just two weeks before the flier surfaced.

"I just think it's really important to have that specific position filled," Van Fossen urged.

Kate Van Fossen says filling the position is just another step in the collaborative effort on Miami's campus to improve understanding and prevention of sexual assault.

"We are in the process," she acknowledged. "The ball is rolling and I'm very excited."

Jones says the university has formed a task force to review comments from three town hall meetings held to gather student input on improving sexual assault education, prevention, and response. She says the group will be presenting recommendations to the Administration by the end of the year.

University officials say their own disciplinary process regarding the offensive fliers is now complete and that they cannot comment on what actions were taken or whether more than one student was involved. 

"In terms of this specific incident, it's closed," Jones said. "But the education,  the looking at what we're doing, the evaluating the success of our programs; that's going to continue."

Miami University officials confirmed the student named as the "principal offender" in the flier case is no longer enrolled at the University. School officials are not releasing the student's name due to federal privacy restrictions for students. A judge also ruled that the case be sealed, further preventing the identification of the offender.

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