(It should probably be said straightaway, since this point was lost on several readers when this bombshell first dropped--we're not blaming the UI for the alleged sexual assault or issuing guilty verdicts to Everson and Satterfield. That's what the courts are for. This is about what happened after the allegation.)
(Also, just like before, we don't have to like Sally Mason to love the Hawkeyes.)
In the UI's first real response to the sexual assault report coming out (rich people in a room talking to each other is not a real response), University President Sally Mason fired two key figures in the bungled Everson/Satterfield sexual assault case. Mason announced that she asked for resignations from VP for Student Affairs Philip Jones and VP for Legal Affairs/General Counsel Marc Mills. When both declined (hmm), Mason fired them. And, as Bellanca smartly notes, two days before her review in front of the Regents (hmm hmm hmm).
Jones and Mills were both heavily criticized in the Stolar Report for their roles in Iowa's handling of the now-infamous sexual assault accusations. Most of the flak Jones took was for telling the alleged victim's mother in no uncertain terms that he had never heard of the alleged victim or the case... about a month after his office was notified of both. Also, once apprised, Jones addressed the rampant harrassment the alleged victim was encountering with... emails. 11 of 'em. No follow-ups. No face-to-face meetings. Just emails.
Meanwhile, Mills comes across as every bit the secretive sleaze we feared, readily admitting he told the UI to withhold documents in the initial internal review of the UI's handling. Curiously, the lead investigator of the Stolar Report declined to regard such behavior as evidence of a coverup, leading to Mike Garnter's incredulous reaction:
"The general counsel failed to turn over documents for no justifiable reason," Gartner said, seeking clarification from Stolar. "What is a cover-up if there was a regents investigation by Tom Evans and there were relevant documents not turned over for no justifiable reason?"
Bryant replied, "I don't call it a cover-up, but it was certainly inappropriate."
Bryant, of course, is arguing on semantics without answering the question. Scarcely the behavior you'd want from the lead investigator of a case like this (especially when his reasoning is "Mills didn't try to hide it"), but there's no sense in chasing shadows here. Mills is gone.
Again, though, the timing seems curious, since all the behavior in question happened months and months ago. At this point, Mason's decision to axe Mills and Jones sends more of a "how dare you get caught!" message than anything else; when the mother directly contacted Mason, it necessitated that a head-in-the-sand reaction from Mason was the only way for her to not become acutely aware of the case. In other words, Mason would have had to actively tried not to know Mills was both the liaison for the family and in charge of overseeing the investigation in progress, neither of which was (according to the Stolar Report) remotely appropriate. While claiming a lack of awareness may technically absolve her from blame for Mills' ridiculous role in the investigation, it certainly doesn't say much for her administrative competence.
Does Mason stay employed sitting in front of the Regents later this week? Probably. Her future depends on two things:
1) That the Regents' bloodlust was sated with Mills' and Jones' firings;
2) That she can convince the Regents that she had little to no role in Mills' decision not to turn over documents related to the case in March during the first investigation.
Being that the Regents are hardly purveyors of Robespierrean justice, we're confident in her ability to accomplish both of the above tasks. After all, if she's using consultants to frame a statement to the UI community that they're aware of a sexual assault that happened a month prior, you know she's a goddamn valedictorian in their "how to keep from getting fired in a scandal" class by now.
But at the end of the day, when the last guillotine has dropped and all investigations are closed, we're worried that everybody's going to take stock of the situation, realize the extent of the institutional incompetence, see Mason still on the UI throne, and ask themselves...
"How in the hell does she still have a job?"