Central College has faced scrutiny following a series of articles in the Des Moines Register regarding its alleged response to sexual assault complaints. Central President Mark Putnam is prohibited from commenting on any specific case, but shared information regarding how the college responds to complaints and the reasons behind the college's steps.
“We are responsible under Title IX,” Putnam said. Title IX is the law that requires colleges which receive federal funding to provide an environment free from sexual harassment. There is much more to the law, but this is the section that dictates the college be involved in the prevention of such offenses.
Central College plays no role in the criminal justice system, unless law enforcement asks for its cooperation. Whether or not the college chooses to contact the police is weighed on a case-by-case basis. If there is an imminent threat, a very violent incident, etc., the college will call the police immediately.
“That's exceedingly rare,” Putnam said.
In most sexual assault reports received by the college, time has passed since the actual incident. Often, the college learns of an assault weeks or months later. Time can pass because the assaults have a deep emotional and psychological effect on the victim. When the time has passed, it becomes the decision of the complainant (victim) to choose whether or not to involve law enforcement.
Pella Police Chief Robert Bokinsky said that every time a crime has come to his department's attention, in any way, his officers immediately look into it. This includes incidents on the Central campus.
Bokinsky provided an example of an alleged sexual assault on the Central campus in October 2013.
According to the PPD report, Officer Shawn Veenstra was provided information from Bokinsky regarding the incident. Bokinsky received the information from Charles Strey, Central College Dean of Students. Central had already performed an investigation into the incident.