Arizona State Apparently OK With Sex Offenders

Arizona State doesn’t exactly have the highest moral standards — hey, they hired a thrice-violating Dennis Erickson to coach their football team — but they’ve never been accused of covering up something they handled incorrectly. Well, start those sirens now, because the Tempe school has agreed to a settlement to keep a woman who was raped by an ASU football player quiet.

dirk koetter

(This man not only got a rapist re-instated, he defended him again and again.)

Worse yet, it’s been revealed that the player who raped the victim in a dorm had already been suspended once for inappropriate sexual comments, touching and exposing himself … and when he was allowed back into school, he immediately began playing for the football team again. It was as if nothing had happened. Even worse, after he was finally kicked out of school, his former coach helped him land at a new place to play: Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

According to THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC, the school and the victim, who claims she was raped by repeat offender Darnel Henderson, agreed to settle the case for $850,000, money which will go toward setting up a statewide Office of Student Safety Coordinator. That’s right, Arizona State did such a bad job protecting its female students that every state institution in the entire state is going to change how it reports allegations of sex crimes.

Of course, the entire incident swings back to Henderson, who hasn’t spoken about the allegations but claims that the 2004 sex between the students was consensual. Yet, the university’s own logic makes it clear they didn’t believe Henderson for a second; he was expelled in May 2004 because he, “had more likely than not” sexually assaulted the woman, according to the court records unsealed in the case.

Hmmm. So, a player who “more likely than not” sexually assaulted someone was allowed to play for a football team as soon as he returned to school from, well, doing everything sexually illicit short of rape? As far as we can tell, that’s the gist of the scenario.

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(He may be safe at Ohio State, but Gene Smith deserves some blame for Henderson.)

It should come as no surprise, then, that the school and, by extension, the state is setting up a new office of oversight to control how these cases are reported. Still, should the Arizona State Athletic Department take some heat on this? To a certain degree it’s understandable that they would want to use any athlete at their disposal, yet clearly they knew Henderson had significant issues with sexually inappropriate behavior.

When is it the school’s responsibility to ensure that an individual who is bringing in money for the institution (i.e., a major athlete) has undergone the counseling necessary to function as a halfway decent human being (or at least function without being a sexual predator)? Shouldn’t the school’s athletic director, Gene Smith (now AD at Ohio State), have insisted Henderson undergo serious counseling and therapy? And if the buck doesn’t stop at Smith, how about former football coach Dirk Koetter? Surely he would have known Henderson had serious issues, and he should have been hyper-vigilant about his own players. Remember Loren Wade?

In fact, that’s where the case gets even more unseemly, because it appears that Koetter went to bat for Henderson multiple times, convincing and re-convincing school officials to let him live an unfettered student life.

The following excerpt comes from an ESPN investigation into the rape, and it’s troubling to say the least:

Early on the morning of March 12, Henderson entered the victim’s dorm room through an unlocked door. The victim had been drinking and was asleep. As Henderson attacked her, police say, she awakened and recognized Henderson. Emergency room records show injuries that could not have occurred in consensual sex.

ASU police concluded that Henderson had committed assault, but no one interviewed him for three weeks. When Henderson did submit to an interview, he was accompanied by George Wynn, ASU’s director of football operations. In the interview, an ASU detective caught Henderson in a series of lies. Henderson claimed the victim had called him repeatedly in the hours before the rape, but his cell phone records showed that he had made all the calls.

The ASU police department submitted its investigation to the Maricopa County authorities, but they declined to prosecute.

Clearly, Arizona State tried to cover up the crime again and again. And there’s no question that the school’s priority was to protect the football program rather than the victim herself.

No matter how harshly you come down on , it’s clear that someone screwed up here and Henderson, who likely won’t serve any time for any of sexual misconducts, is getting off way too easy. The only hope is that the institution that’s being funded by money connected to his crimes will help avoid more of them in the future.