In new statement on sexual assault suit, UNA says professor broke policy

FLORENCE, Ala. -- The University of North Alabama has released an official statement regarding the allegations that they covered up a professor's sexual assault of a student.

The allegations are lengthy, and you can read them here.

They had previously released a statement aggressively denouncing the allegations made in the lawsuit.

The new statement notes the university's commitment to student safety.

"The University of North Alabama is committed to providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students. The University has a professional and well-trained staff that addresses claims of sexual misconduct with the utmost seriousness."

The official statement acknowledges the lawsuit which claims that the university did not respond appropriately to the allegations and disputes them.

"Upon notice of the alleged misconduct, the University reached out to the student and conducted an investigation. The University concluded that, in the fall of 2015 the faculty member had violated University policy regarding faculty/student relationships."

You can read the full statement on UNA's website, and we have included the full statement below:

"The University of North Alabama is committed to providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students. The University has a professional and well-trained staff that addresses claims of sexual misconduct with the utmost seriousness.  Students impacted by sexual misconduct are provided strong resources and excellent support.

A lawsuit was filed last week against the University. The lawsuit alleges sexual assault of a student by a former faculty member and claims that the University did not respond appropriately. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Upon notice of the alleged misconduct, the University reached out to the student and conducted an investigation. The University concluded that, in the fall of 2015 the faculty member had violated University policy regarding faculty/student relationships. As a result, the faculty member was removed from the classroom and ordered to stay away from campus and to avoid contact with students.  The faculty member is no longer employed by the University. 

The University responded quickly and professionally throughout this process, complying with all applicable policies and laws.  The matter was investigated thoroughly and the University acted decisively to protect our students while also protecting the student’s right to privacy.

The University offers a fair, informed and compliant process that supports any student who experiences sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, or any other form of sex or gender discrimination. 

The University is proud of its record in promoting campus safety and will defend its good name vigorously in this litigation.  Officials will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the integrity of the excellent programs that foster the security and well-being of all University of North Alabama students."

Some UNA students are planning a "peaceful protest" in honor of the unnamed plaintiff.

"What I'm most concerned about is UNA's current stance about it. Because they can say it happened in 2015, and maybe they had different people in charge back then. But they are still in 2017 actively shaming, and smearing a rape survivor. That is not okay," said senior Ashley Massey.

The protest is scheduled for August 24th on campus. Massey, the organizer, said the demonstration will begin at UNA's amphitheater at 6:30 p.m.