Sophomore Steven Michael Shparber was arrested on the charge of first-degree rape by the Rochester Police Department on March 13.
“We were first notified by an officer on patrol at Strong [Memorial Hospital],” Director of UR Security Walter Mauldin said. “We talked to the female student and she filed a report with us. We then informed her that she should report this to the RPD. After some consideration, she said ‘I do want to file the police report.'”
Bail was set at $15,000 on Monday. Shparber made bail on Tuesday.
The victim, a former UR undergraduate, first reported the incident on Feb. 27 to UR Security and RPD while receiving medical treatment from Strong.
Shparber responded to the allegations in a phone interview on Wednesday.
“The allegations against me are completely false,” Shparber said. “I have faith in the system and that the truth will ultimately come out and prevail.”
The victim could not be reached for comment.
Under New York State Law, first-degree rape is defined as “when a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person (1) by forcible compulsion or (2) who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless.”
First-degree rape is categorized as a class-B felony, carrying a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail.
The UR administration is ambivalent about this incident.
“It is shocking and really disturbing,” Dean of Students Jody Asbury said. “But I want to stress this [charge against Shparber] is an allegation at this point.”
Student reaction was mixed. “It was a good thing that she stood up for herself,” senior Emily Locker said. “It takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself. It’s good that UR set a standard [in cases like this].”
Freshman Hayley Miskiewkz was shocked by the news. “I am surprised because I feel generally secure,” she said. “Things like this make you wonder whether you have a false sense of security.”
Brothers of the Chi Phi fraternity, where Shparber is the treasurer, expressed their support.
“[Shparber] is our friend,” President of fraternity and junior Jeremy Boardman said.
“We [the Rochester chapter of the fraternity] don’t know what has happened, but we support him,” Boardman said.
It is UR’s standard procedure in dealing with students suspected or charged with serious crimes, such as murder or rape, to give a summary suspension to the student, pending both judgment from the All-Campus Judicial Council or Administrative Hearing Board, and courts.
Chief Justice of ACJC and Take Five student Dave Iseminger declined to confirm or deny if Shparber’s case had been referred to ACJC.
Students under summary suspension are typically barred from entering campus grounds. Their student identification cards are also usually restricted or deactivated while under suspension, according to Associate Dean in charge of discipline Matt Burns.
“When a student is charged with any crime, normally UR takes a disciplinary action, not as a judgment of guilt or innocence but rather as a precaution,” Burns said. “We would rather have a complaint from an innocent person against the University [for barring their return], rather than a complaint from another victim of the suspect that was allowed on campus. It is a case where the needs of the community outweigh the needs of the individual.”
Students are permitted to retrieve their belongings from their rooms if the Dean of Students’ office is given prior notification, according to Burns. Some students hope the incident brings awareness to sexual assualt cases.
“There is no more that UR Security could have done to prevent this,” said President of Women’s Caucus and junior Jessica Stoll. “This campus already provides a lot of education [for these situations.] This will encourage more [of such incidents] to be reported.”
According to the 2003 ThinkSafe report compiled by UR Security, in the past three years, UR averaged seven reports of forcible sex offenses, annually. Rapes are a sub-category of forcible sex offenses and usually average one a year.
“[Rape] is by no means a common incident at UR,” Asbury said.
According to the Statistics on Sexual Violence Against Women and Rape Treatment Center of Santa Monica Longitudinal Study, one out of seven women in college have been raped, while only one of 10 of those women tell anyone.
“There are some basic ways to stay safe,” Mauldin said. “Just as any other UR office would tell you, think about the intentions, situations [that you are in] and be clear about them. If there are situations you are uncomfortable with, it’s important to have clear communication [about it], especially about consent.”
Many resources are provided by UR for students to learn about, to receive counseling for or to report sexual offenses.
“UR has been very committed in educating students and been a leader [in sexual harassment education],” said Asbury. “We were the second university in the country to have a sexual harassment officer, as well as the first to develop date rape education workshops.”
UR also has a sexual assault hotline, counseling service and an intercessor for sexual harassment, as well as the first participant-sensitive administrative judicial system in the country, according to Asbury.
“A whole group of intercessors are available to have confidential conversations about [individual] issues,” intercessor for Medical Center faculty and students professor Ruth Lawrence said.
Most UR students learned of the arrest from the Security Notice e-mails. There were two different e-mails sent out – one sent to seniors referring to Shparber in the pronoun “he” and the other one sent to the other classes and distribution lists incorrectly identifying the suspect as “Shparbar.” UR Security did intend to release the name to the public, but in its first version to seniors, neglected to add the name to the report.
“There was some discussion about releasing his name, but since he was arrested, [Shparber’s] name is a matter of public record, which is why we put it into the e-mails,” Mauldin said.
Arrests are rare in these cases, and no similar incidents from 2004 resulted in arrests, according to Mauldin.
Additional reporting by Jason Buitrago and Ryan Watson.
He can be reached at email@example.com.