Police delay concerns student

Days after a sexual assault was falsely reported at St. Michael’s College, one member of SGA’s Student Action Committee expressed concerns that the University had not been quick enough to alert students to the updated information. 

“Very insulting that UVM Police Services sent out a blast email when they were looking for the suspect, but not when this new information came out,” Christian Matthews, a senior, wrote in an email to SGA Sept. 27. “I urge you all to email UVM Police Services and request them to send out their updated press release regarding this false accusation.”

Matthews was referencing a reported sexual assault that allegedly took place Sept. 14 on the main campus around midnight. The initial report sent by the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, and later sent out to UVM students, implicated an unidentified man captured on video surveillance, the Burlington Free Press reported Sept. 26. 

Upon its investigation of the incident, CUSI found that the alleged victim, junior Tanya Marceau, had lied to police. Marceau now faces a charge of reporting false information to police, CUSI’s press release stated. 

But while UVM Police Services sent out a campus-wide email Sept. 20 containing the report and urging students to call 911 if they had seen the man pictured in the accompanying video surveillance, a follow up report was not sent until Sept. 27. 

UVM Police Chief Lianne Tuomey explained in an email to the Cynic that same day why this was the standard operating procedure. 

UVM Police was not the investigating agency in this case, Tuomey wrote. While a follow up report would have been “important safety information”, it was not a mandated advisory or an emergency situation in which the CatAlert system would have been appropriate to use. 

“Late yesterday afternoon when we received the investigating agencies information Deputy Chief Bilodeau did send that release via our alert/advisory system which posted that info on Police Services Facebook, Twitter and our webpage,” her email stated. The email blast was delayed because the people who can send them were not available until later that day. 

Shortly after Tuomey emailed the Cynic, UVM Police Services emailed the UVM community about the false report.

St. Michael’s sent out an initial email about the reported assault, said St. Michael’s Student Association President Alexander Ieronimo on Sunday, but did not send a follow up email last week. 

As for whether or not no follow up notification seemed to concern the St. Michael’s community, Ieronimo said the issue had not been brought up to him personally. 

He said he trusted the Office of Public Safety and believed that if they had not sent out an updated advisory, it was probably for “a good reason.”

“They do a good job alerting students through email,” he said. “We support the full dissemination of information to the student body particularly when something like this occurs. As far as sending out an update, I’m not sure why it wasn’t done, but we trust them.”