Paine College could face fines for violating Clery Act

By  | 

News 12 at 6 o' clock/ September 2, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga.--Paine College is trying to get back on track when it comes to the budget. The school just announced furloughs and cutbacks. This all comes on the heels of the school's decision to settle a lawsuit with the student raped in a dorm bathroom. But, a News 12 investigation reveals the school could be paying out even more after that crime.

It's called the Clery Act, and it's been in place since the early 1990s. The law says any school receiving federal funding must notify students of crime on or around campus, but students we talked to say, that didn't happen.

Jarius Dantzler attempted to rape a 19 year old girl in her Paine College dorm room in November of 2012. She left her room unlocked to go to the bathroom, came back, and he attacked her. She was able to scratch his face and fight him off. Dantzler pleaded guilty to that incident, along with two others last week.

Crime scene photos show the struggle was brutal, with hair extensions scattered on the ground, ripped out in the fight. Photos also show a stick left to prop open a back door to Graham Hall. Investigators believe that's how Dantzler got into the dormitory. But, students say, they never received any sort of alert about the attempted rape.

Back in March of 2013 during a press conference, Brandon Brown, the Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Paine College said, "At no time did we feel the students safety was in jeopardy here on campus."

Students say the emergency notification system in place on campus was never used. The Clery Act states schools are required to 'issue timely warnings about Clery Act crimes which pose a serious or ongoing threat to students and employees.' Sex offenses are considered one of the crimes that must be reported.

Fast forward four months later to a frantic 911 call coming from the same dorm building. The caller says, "Please help me. Someone tried to hurt my roommate."

Jarius Dantzler, who is not a student at Paine, once again was able to get into the same dormitory. This time, he hid in a bathroom and waited to make his move. Dantzler raped the student as she got out of the shower in a bathroom stall. Case files say she was able to eventually free herself after someone else came into the bathroom. She ran naked, screaming down the hall back to her dorm room, where her roommate was able to call 911.

Even after a rape on campus, students say, they were not notified of any sort of threat.

After the incident, the student who was raped filed a lawsuit against the school, citing a lack of security and faulting Paine for not warning students after the first attack four months earlier.

Chris Stewart, the victim's lawyer, said, "Nothing was done after that to prevent this from happening."

Paine College agreed to settle that lawsuit out of court.

After the rape, we spoke with one student, too scared to go on camera who said, "They haven't sent nothing to the email, nothing to the text message," referring to the lack of notification by the school.

Even more concerning, case files reveal these two sexual assaults are not isolated incidents. After the rape, while Richmond County investigators were trying to identify a suspect, the head of Paine College Public Safety told them they may want to investigate someone else, and gave Richmond County investigators a name. It wasn't Dantzler, but they said he was "being investigated by the college for several sexual assaults on campus."

If Paine College is found in violation of the Clery Act, they can face up to a $35,000 fine for each infraction. But, perhaps more serious for them since they are already in financial distress, they can also risk suspension from certain federal student financial aid programs.