St. Louis Community College officials leave jobs after student attack

Friday, August 16, 2013 | 4:25 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — Three officials at the Meramec campus of St. Louis Community College no longer hold their jobs after a review of an April attack on a female student found widespread problems.

Former student Jevon Mallory, 18, faces a felony assault charge after Blythe Grupe, 19, said he choked her in a women's bathroom at the Meramec campus in Kirkwood. Grupe said Mallory tried to kill her, and Mallory later told a counselor he wanted to "withdraw her from life," according to police reports.

But campus officials initially released him from custody within hours and didn't alert the rest of campus to the threat, as required under federal law. Mallory was charged with a crime after Grupe, of Chesterfield, went public with the attack several days later.

A report by the Armstrong Teasdale law firm commissioned by the school's governing board and released Thursday found a "system-wide failure" among administrators, campus police and other officials. The review cited "a lack in leadership and management from key personnel at the district and campus levels."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that Meramec campus police Chief Paul Banta, community college district Police Chief Robert Stewart and Linden Crawford, a vice president of student affairs, no longer hold their jobs. A school official declined to say whether they were fired or transferred elsewhere.

Meramec campus President George Wasson resigned soon after the attack. The school's board of trustees also voted not to renew Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey's contract after it expires next year.

The report said community college officials didn't properly handle unspecified "prior incidents" involving Mallory, though it did not give specifics, citing federal privacy laws. The law firm recommended additional training for campus police and suggested patrols by municipal law enforcement may be preferable than relying on a campus police force.

Board chairman Craig Larson said the school is negotiating with Banta and Crawford on the details of their removals. Stewart told the newspaper he planned to retire but would not comment further.

Larson said he conveyed an official apology to the victim and her family on behalf of the school. The report said instructor Aurora Hill interrupted the attack and saved the student "from being strangled by a man who intended to kill her."

Larson called the outside review "an investment in the future safety of our students."

"The most disappointing aspect of this report is that so many individuals who could have made a difference throughout this terrible event simply did not act," he said in a statement accompanying the report's release.

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