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Student pleads not guilty to sexual assault

A Castleton State College student has been charged with sexually assaulting another student.Kevin J. Magee, of Otego, N.Y., pleaded innocent Jan. 25 in Rutland District Court to a charge of sexual assault without consent, Castleton Det. Gary Boutin said Sunday.

Magee, a junior at Castleton, was released on a number of conditions including a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew with an exception for classes and a condition that he not purchase, possess, or consume alcohol, according to a Rutland Herald article printed Jan. 29 and verified Sunday by Boutin.

Boutin said Magee sexually assaulted a female acquaintance during a party at his apartment at 11 Main St. on Nov. 6. Magee did not return e-mails seeking comment on the arrest.

The female, who filed the complaint with police, said she drank four beers at McGee’s home before falling asleep in a bedroom, Boutin said. She told police she was later awakened by Magee who led her into his room where she fell asleep on his bed. She said she woke up in the early morning hours of Nov. 6 to find that she was partially undressed with Magee laying next to her and touching her, according to the affidavit referred to in the Rutland Herald and verified by Boutin.

Although a school official said in last week’s Rutland Herald article that the school only learned of the incident recently, Boutin said that’s not the case.

“The school nurse was involved since day one,” Boutin said. “(And) the security chief sat in on the statement I took from a dorm official who had been with the victim after the assault.”

Boutin said he suspects the discrepancy was due to a communication problem.

Ennis Duling, communication director at Castleton, clarified Monday that the school was aware of the incident, but only learned of the arrest and a formal complaint days earlier.

Sexual assaults at CSC haven’t been a prevalent issue since fall 2007 when two separate rape allegations were made from incidents in the South St. parking lot.

A separate report, however, was filed in the Public Safety incident report of an alleged sexual assault occurring on Jan. 24 at an off campus location. Godlweski said he investigated the issue and turned it over to Dean of Students Dennis Proulx. The matter is still pending, but Proulx said it’s unrelated to the November case.

The events in 2007 prompted students to take action with the Creating, Honoring, Advocating and Nurturing Gender Equity (CHANGE) initiative.

But some are left questioning the impact after this arrest.

“Everyone wears the ‘got consent?’ t-shirt to promote awareness, but this stuff keeps happening” said Castleton junior Alex Pugliese “I can’t imagine what that girl is going through.”

Pugliese isn’t the only student wondering why this kind of act is still occurring in our area.

“Sadly it’s a thing that does happen and I don’t know what can be done” said junior David Manghis. “People need to wake up and realize how serious this stuff is.”

Professor Linda Olson, chairperson for CHANGE, said despite this latest report and arrest, she believes CHANGE is helping.

“I’d like to say we can stop this kind of act, but I don’t know if it’s possible, but we can do our part to change campus culture,” she said. “I don’t know if we’ve reduced the number, but what I do know is that were gradually changing campus culture.”

Olson said education has been shown to be an unparalleled preventative measure.

“We’re not counselors, but we can listen and help find resources to help victims” said Olson.

CHANGE Coordinator Jaklyn VanManen agrees. She said CHANGE has made progress in creating awareness, but she stressed that victims are still dealing with dark memories when new assaults occur.

“I think one thing we don’t really think about is what the impact is on survivors,” she said. “Things like this can bring back flashbacks, it’s important to remember that effect.”

In an interview with police, Magee denied the assault took place, Boutin said. Magee said he helped the woman into his room and fell asleep beside her, but nothing happened, according to the Rutland Herald and verified by Boutin.

“It didn’t happen. I would never do that,” Magee told police according to the affidavit.

But on Dec. 17, Boutin said he recorded a phone conversation between the woman and Magee. During this conversation, Boutin said Magee initially denied any foul play, but as the conversation went on he is quoted in the affidavit saying “OK, there is a possibility that I could have done it. I’m sorry, like, there’s not anything I can do about the situation now if it did happen.