Letter to Michael Hemesath re Sexual Assault

[Webmaster’s Note #1: The following email was sent to Saint John’s University President Michael Hemesath and ten other members of the CSB/SJU community on September 28, 2012. There has been no response. ]

[Webmaster’s Note #2: After receiving no response from Hemesath and others, a second email was written on October 23, 2012… View ]

To: SJU President Michael Hemesath

Date: September 28, 2012

Mr. Hemesath,

By introduction, my name is Patrick Marker and I was a victim of sexual assault on your campus over 29 years ago. My perpetrator (along with over a dozen other known perpetrators of sexual misconduct) is allowed to walk around your campus as he desires.

According to a search warrant issued by the Stearns County Sheriff, SJU senior student-athlete [BM] is a suspect in a sexual assault upon [Redacted] on campus earlier this month (see story in The Record, below).


Why was suspect [BM], a high profile member of the swim team, afforded such protection by Saint John’s? What role did personnel at Saint John’s have in suspect [BM’s] departure from Saint John’s and the distance (reportedly Florida) that he has put between himself and Collegeville? What recommendations and other assistance has/will Saint John’s personnel make to assist suspect [BM’s] transition to another academic institution? What has Saint John’s offered to silence the young female victim from the College of Saint Benedict?

Mr. Connolly’s statements (below) that, “there is no reason to be concerned” and, “It is very important that students put safety at the forefront when gathering after hours for parties” minimizes a very serious problem and blames the victim(s).

Instead of suggesting that students simply “put safety at the forefront,” perhaps the university could educate the respective student bodies — and especially incoming freshmen — [Redacted] of crimes similar to which student-athlete [BM’s] is suspected.

I would like to know when Saint John’s will release suspect [BM’s] name to the public and ask if any other CSB students have been similarly victimized by this suspect?

That I am aware of, this is the second student athlete for whom Saint John’s covered up a potential crime this year alone. You may recall that Johnny Benson admitted to making a quite public threat that led to Fr. Mullin’s quote on February 2, 2012, “A personal threat to the safety of anyone is not acceptable behavior at SJU.” And yet Johnny Benson remains on the football team… likely due to the coaching and support he received from Saint John’s personnel prior and subsequent to his interview with law enforcement.

I am requesting that Saint John’s immediately discontinue the practice of protecting the perpetrators of misconduct and make suspect [BM’s] name public.

Further, I am requesting that you immediately investigate the orchestrated interference (by personnel at CSB/SJU) with the investigation of these and future crimes — and hold accountable those who participated.

Please respond with an intended plan of action and transparency by Monday afternoon, October 1, 2012.


Patrick J Marker


BernaDette Suwareh; Student Human Rights Officer
Abbot John Klassen; SJU Chancellor
Fr. Doug Mullin, OSB; SJU VP Student Development
Michael Connolly;  SJU Dean of Students
Rita Knuesel CSB/SJU Provost
Kelly Butorac; The Record
Molly Carey; The Record
MaryAnn Baenninger; CSB president
Mary Geller; CSB VP of Student Development
Jody Terhaar; CSB Dean of Students


Alleged assault at CSB/SJU
By Molly Carey & Kelly Butorac
September 18th, 2012

An alleged sexual assault occurred on the St. John’s University campus between Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2.

The reported incident occurred between a St. Ben’s and St. John’s student in an on-campus student residence.

“There was an alleged assault and we are currently following through,” said SJU Dean of Students Mike Connolly, “It is very important that students put safety at the forefront when gathering after hours for parties.”

St. John’s Life Safety is still investigating an alleged sexual assault last weekend.

The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office also received a complaint regarding this incident and is looking into the matter. The event is believed to be an isolated incident, and Dean Connolly wants to ensure students that while there is no reason to be concerned, it is always important to keep safety in mind.

In response to the recent incident, CSB/SJU is executing standard protocol through the Joint Complaint Procedure for Sexual Assault Violations Involving Students. In addition, both campuses are stressing safety information and precautions to reduce the risk of future offensives.

“It’s not just about raising the issue that sexual assault is bad, but it’s understanding that we all contribute to the environment we live in,” Assistant Director of Health Promotion Lori Klapperich said. “We need to think about how we can create an environment that doesn’t condone, tolerate, enable, accept or turn our backs on this issue.”

According to the results of the CSB/SJU General Health Survey, 16-17 percent of women and 9-10 percent of men at CSB/SJU have experienced unwanted sexual touching in the last year.

“80-90 percent of sexual assault occurs between people who know each other,” Klapperich said. “We can all support a victim by supporting our environment, essentially it’s being for them, listening and supporting them. It is one of the most intimate crimes that can happen and some victims never recover.”

Klapperich also encourages students to begin to talk about sex as a serious topic to determine what their values are and how they can spread that message.

Life Safety Services in addition to Stearns County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the investigation is ongoing, and according to University administration, measures will be taken pending the results of the case.

“As part of the investigation, information is confidential,” Connolly said. “The situation is being carefully examined.”

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Topics: Johnny Benson, Michael Hemesath

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