Parent Upset With UNC Justice System After Daughter's Assault
Posted September 26, 2003
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Honor Code is a part of campus life for students at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
and it is being tested after a student's suspension was overturned.
In September 2002, Carrboro police arrested UNC junior Peter Johnston for assaulting his ex-girlfriend by throwing a glass at her face. He pleaded no contest in court.
After a 9-hour school hearing in April, UNC informed the victim, student Jessica Hogan, that Johnston was suspended. In July, Chancellor James Moeser upheld the suspension. Then, a few weeks ago, UNC notified Hogan that a Board of Trustees committee overturned the suspension due to a "procedural error."
"Generally when a matter comes before [the] board, we're focused solely on whether there was due process for everyone involved in the case [and] the process," said Richard Williams, board chairman.
No one from the university, including the Board of Trustees or Chancellor Moeser, would talk with WRAL about the case. They say federal law prohibits them from talking about disciplinary action involving a student.
The Hogan family said the system is flawed because it protects the privacy of the accused and gives the victim few rights. John Hogan, Jessica's father, wants trustees to review the case.
"It's incomprehensible. I can't fathom a rationale for why they did this," he said.
Hogan said Johnston initially told the school the assault was an accident, then told the truth.
"What's been admitted to is basically not telling the truth to the university, assaulting a fellow student there ought to be a sanction for that, a consequence for that and the university needs to get on with it," Hogan said.
Johnston's grandfather is a prominent member of the UNC faculty. Hogan said he hopes that played no role in the Board's decision. Hogan, who is also an UNC graduate, said he wants his daughter to remember the university fondly.
"I want her to be able to look back 20 years from now and have good feelings about this place in spite of what happened to her that involved one individual," she said.
In a closed session Thursday morning, trustees talked about the honor code process, but not the case specifically. Johnston did not return calls or messages left by WRAL at his home.
Johnston's grandfather told WRAL in a letter that he had no part in his grandson's judicial process and would hope his position to the university did not influence the Board of Trustees in any way. Hogan has the right to start the hearing process over, but she said she does not want to go through the emotional turmoil.