Iowa reviewing sex harassment case

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 13, 2012
University of Iowa President Sally Mason said Tuesday she is reviewing the school's handling of an athletics department official who resigned after being accused of improperly touching student athletes for years. Peter Gray, 59, resigned last week after working for the last decade at the athletics department, where he was in charge of monitoring the academic progress of student-athletes. An internal report, obtained by the Iowa City Press-Citizen, concluded that Gray violated the university's sexual harassment policy by rubbing, massaging shoulders and hugging students and athletes -- behavior that allegedly took place since 2002 and also marked an earlier employment stint at Iowa from 1993 to 1995. Gray also made comments of a sexual nature to recruits and parents, gave football tickets to someone outside the university in exchange for nude photographs and made other sexual overtures and comments, the report says. Mason announced her review one day after leaders of the Iowa Board of Regents met by conference call to discuss the case and requested more information from the university. Board President Craig Lang said it is important that regents play an oversight role but that he would withhold comment until he gathers the facts later this week. Mason said in a statement that she could not comment on the details of the case because it is a confidential personal matter. "I want to assure you that we are continuing to review all the details regarding this matter and how it was handled," Mason said. "Once all the facts are known, I will take all necessary actions that are warranted. My priority is the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty and staff." Regent Bob Downer of Iowa City questioned in an interview Tuesday why Gray was rehired in 2002 if there were concerns about him before he left in 1995, and he called for a review of university policy on rehiring employees. He also wanted to know more about how those who complained about Gray's behavior were treated, saying campus should be free from inappropriate sexual conduct. Phone numbers for Gray were disconnected, and nobody answered the door at an Iowa City address for him. Gray, whose salary was $73,000, counseled athletes at the Gerdin Athletic Learning Center. "The touching was described as overly friendly, prolonged in nature, and generally inappropriate for a professional in an academic advising or work setting," the report says. Some student athletes "reacted in a visceral and visible manner indicating discomfort," according to the report, which followed an investigation into a formal complaint the university filed with its Office of Equity and Diversity. Some colleagues also requested not to work with Gray, the report says. Gray's supervisor acknowledged receiving complaints from employees, coaches and at least one athlete about Gray's behavior at work and "local establishments" where students gather, and that he had admonished him several times, it says. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters on Tuesday that Gray had worked with members of the football team in the past but had not done so for a while. He did not elaborate on when Gray stopped counseling his players or why that came about. Gray acknowledged using a photo of male swim team members posing in their swimsuits as a screensaver on his work computer, where investigators found other pictures showing individuals engaged in sex acts with toys or stuffed animals and individuals in underwear and swimsuits. Gray gave football tickets and money in 2011 to someone not affiliated with Iowa as "an incentive, gratitude or appreciation." That person sent him three nude photographs. University of Iowa police said Monday they aren't investigating Gray. But the department released an incident report showing he was linked to an investigation into "improper use of complimentary tickets by athletic staff." That case was closed last month after officers did not find evidence of a crime, said associate director of public safety David Visin.
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