IOWA CITY — One state regent says he wants a discussion about the rehiring of state university employees in the wake of the resignation of a University of Iowa Athletics Department adviser whom the university investigated for sexual harassment violations.
Bob Downer, an Iowa City lawyer and a member of the state Board of Regents, said Monday that given what he has read in media reports, he has concerns about the university’s rehiring of Peter Gray. Gray worked in the Athletics Department from 1993 to 1995 and again from 2002 until he resigned last week. At the time of his resignation, Gray was associate director of athletic student services.
It will be important for the regents to discuss what sort of policies are in place about the rehiring of former employees at all three of the state’s regent universities, and to make sure those policies are being followed, Downer said. He’s unsure if there even is a policy governing what factors might disqualify someone for rehire by the universities, he said.
“As far as the difficulties that he apparently got into during his first employment, it’s hard for me to see, assuming these (news) stories are accurate, how he passed muster for re-employment,” Downer said. “And to me, that’s a significant issue in terms of policies for all of the universities, that if there are these sorts of things on someone’s record, how they would slip through for re-employment, and particularly in the same department.”
Documents obtained by the Iowa City Press-Citizen last week show that an internal investigation of Gray turned up a “reasonable basis to conclude” that he violated the university’s policy on sexual harassment. The document, dated Oct. 24, details the university’s findings regarding a formal complaint of sexual harassment and violations of other university policies.
University officials have said they will not comment on Gray’s resignation or the leaked internal report because it involves confidential personnel issues.
Downer said because complaints of sexual harassment are handled through internal university processes, it’s common that details of such reports do not come to the regents for discussion or review. They’re dealt with on the institutional level and “ideally, that’s the way it should be,” he said, since the internal policies are there to deal with such matters. But this issue rises to the level where more questions about policies must be answered, Downer said.
“It would seem to me that this isn’t just a University of Iowa problem,” he said. “It would seem to me that we should be concerned about this across the board.”
The internal document says there were reports of multiple incidents where Gray inappropriately touched student athletes; made comments of a sexual nature to prospective student athletes and their parents; and kept suggestive sexual images on his work computer, among other complaints. Several individuals stated that the touching behavior took place during Gray’s first employment with the university and has continued from 2002 to the present, according to the report.
In an initial response Monday to open records requests from The Gazette seeking emails from various university officials regarding Gray, university officials said several top administrators, including President Sally Mason, had no emails about Gray or the investigation.
University police in late October determined a complaint of “improper use of complimentary tickets” involving Gray was “unfounded.”
According to a report from the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety, Gray was listed as an “other person” on an incident report for “improper use of complimentary tickets by athletic staff” in October — just weeks before he resigned amid accusations he provided football tickets and money for sexual favors and inappropriately touched student-athletes.
The report, which includes no narrative and was determined to be unfounded on Oct. 24, lists the dates of the alleged incident as being between Aug. 1, 2011, and Oct. 8, 2012.
Although the report states that it involves suspicious people or activities, it shows that there are no suspects and no victims. According to the report, the incident location is listed as the Gerdin Athletic Learning Center, which is where Gray worked.
University police have no criminal complaints involving Gray, according to department officials, but Iowa law makes it a crime to use or permit another person to use “the property owned by the state or any subdivision or agency of the state for any private purpose and for personal gain, to the detriment of the state or any subdivision thereof.”
A student told investigators, according to the internal report, that Gray exchanged money and football tickets for sexual favors from another person who wasn’t affiliated with the university. Gray admitted to providing the tickets and money during the 2011 season, but he denied it was for sexual favors, according to the report.
University policy on athletic tickets for staff members states all complimentary season tickets for staff are for the staff member’s personal use only and may be used by family and friends, and single game complimentary tickets are for staff member’s personal/family use only. Complimentary tickets are not to be sold or traded, the policy states, and abuse of complimentary ticket privileges or policy will result in the loss of privileges. Athletics Department non-football staff are permitted two complimentary tickets for each home football game, unless otherwise stated in their employment contract, according to the policy.