Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Campus Responses to Sexual Assault, Part 3: Furman University Police

Officers are trained to respond and investigate sex crimes. Interviewees report mistreatment from former officer.
Courtesy of Furman University

Students can report cases of sexual violence to the Furman Police Department, which handles and investigates criminal activity on campus. Operating under Clery Act reporting standards like the Title IX office, FUPD handles cases of sexual violence as criminal proceedings and reports them accordingly.

“Furman’s Police Department is responsible for providing the Furman community with a safe environment in which to work, live and learn,” Susan Maddux (Vice President for Finance and Administration) said. Police Chief John Milby reports directly to Maddux and other senior administrators regularly on incidents and proceedings in his department. “Furman’s police chief is able to speak directly with any member of the leadership team including the president. The complexity of the department requires financial, strategic, and workforce planning that can be directly given by my office,” said Maddux. 

Any on-duty officer can respond to victims of sexual violence in need of assistance. The average officer has almost 20 years of experience and annual training on trauma informed responses to sexual assault. When FUPD is called in these cases, steps are taken to secure victim safety and protect any physical evidence. “If the victim chooses to proceed with a criminal investigation, investigators will respond and initiate an investigation,” Chief Milby said. These investigations can take several months to complete, and often involve collecting and processing evidence with the SLED (State Law Enforcement Division) Crime Lab in Columbia, SC. After reviewing investigations, a Solicitor decides whether sufficient evidence exists to charge the suspect. If the Solicitor decides to prosecute, a warrant is sent for the suspect’s arrest, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled.

According to Police records, FUPD received 26 reports of rape and 7 reports of fondling cumulatively in 2019, 2020, and 2021: 

“It is the policy of the Furman University Police Department to conduct sexual assault investigations that seek the truth while emphasizing a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach,” Chief Milby said.

“We seek to empower victims of sexual assault through choice and information, and seek to mitigate trauma by showing empathy and taking proactive steps to help victims feel safe.” 


Student Experiences with FUPD: Former Officer, Exhaustion

Two people who initiated sexual assault cases with FUPD described negative experiences when working with a former Lieutenant Investigator and Clery Compliance Officer. They described the former officer’s behavior as unprofessional and biased.

One person said the former officer told them, “I needed to learn how to have sex before I called rape,” and repeatedly asked questions about their dress, substance use, and other activities which the person felt insinuated they were to blame. Another person described the former officer’s behavior in meetings as arrogant and inconsistent, particularly when describing his case credentials.

Interviewees also commented on the former officer’s bias towards parties. “There were clear differences in the behaviors he was giving me and the other party,” one person said. “With me, he was very much trying to plant seeds of doubt, like ‘I think you’re lying,’ ‘you’re going to ruin this kid’s future,’ whereas with the other party he was consoling and supportive.” 

Interviewees described their experiences as re-traumatizing and advised future victims to avoid FUPD procedures. “This process puts a bomb in your life. For your mental health, for everything, you’re so much better off healing elsewhere,” one person said. 

Dr. Teresa Cosby, former Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the SC Attorney General’s Office and professor of political science, spoke to the mental, emotional and physical exhaustion victims face when engaged in criminal sexual assault cases. “One of the myths about sex crimes is that victims feel better after pressing charges,” Dr. Cosby said. “In reality, they are re-harmed in court.”

Another interviewee emphasized the hardship of navigating a case lead by an authority they considered to be biased and unprofessional. “There comes a point when you can’t do it anymore,” they said.

Data for this report, including student and alumni experiences with the former officer, was gathered during the months of March, April, May, and June of 2022, while the former officer mentioned was still employed by the University. 

The Paladin has not identified the former officer, because Chief Milby declined to give the officer permission to speak with The Paladin on March 28th, 2022.

On August 22nd, 2022, when asked about the officer’s status, Chief Milby reported the following: “I am not permitted to comment on private personnel matters, but I can confirm that [the officer] is no longer employed by the Furman Police Department.”

Read about student experience with Title IX and learn more about the inner-workings of the process:

Part 1: How The Title IX Office Works

Part 2: Students want more confidential advocates, other schools have them.

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