Geneseo’s failure to investigate a sexual assault allegation is unjustifiable

Six weeks ago, Livingston County District Attorney Greg McCaffrey became aware of allegations from October 2014 that a Geneseo student was the victim of a forcible sexual assault. The college never notified outside law enforcement nor pursued criminal charges against the perpetrator, Philip Pang, also a student of Geneseo at the time. 

McCaffery told the Livingston County News that he “understands the college has a legal mandate to protect students’ privacy through Title IX … but given the allegations against Pang, and the fact the victim promptly reported the incident … the college should have done more.”

Pang, having been arrested on Aug. 21, was charged with a first-degree criminal sexual act and first-degree sexual abuse, according to Fox Rochester. Pang is facing charges nearly five years after the assault; the victim’s prompt and official report of her assault resulted in no immediate action from the college. 

Geneseo touts its resources and protections for students that are victims of assault, both on and off-campus—this alleged assault occurred in a dorm room. So, how did Pang go on to graduate in 2017, more than three years after the incident? 

Geneseo UPD was “involved with the arrest,” according to Livingston County News, which might not necessarily be too little, but it is far too late. For a school that prides itself on low assault numbers, victim protection and Title IX involvement, this story presents Geneseo as caring about their image more than their students.

The allegations against Pang, made back in 2014, were substantial, dangerous and should not have been swept away only to reemerge in 2019, years after the incident. RAINN reports that among undergraduate students, 23.1 percent of females experience rape or sexual assault. The 2017 report of Geneseo’s rapes and assaults lists only four rapes. In 2016, there was only one. Suddenly, the low numbers of assaults and rapes at Geneseo have darker undertones. The college’s decision to remain silent and allow a student accused of rape to graduate has done nothing but hurt their reputation and foster distrust. 

Through Title IX, a student’s privacy is protected, but it is not a confidential resource. Title IX is required to report incidents of sexual assault and rape. This is especially vital if the alleged perpetrator could do it again. 

No matter the intention, Geneseo’s response to this assault has been poor at best. Between failing to report it in 2014, and then allowing Philip Pang to graduate as if nothing had happened, they have failed to prove their purported commitment to the awareness, prevention and protection from sexual assault on campus. This is a bad look for Geneseo, and it’s one they could have avoided had they listened to their own policies and protections. 

“I don’t think it was a cover-up … [but] I don’t know why I was not advised; I don’t know what the problem is here. I have documentation from the college as to what they were told on this,” McCaffery said, according to the Livingston County News. “[The] victim came forward to the school; [the] perpetrator was advised the victim came forward. To me, if one victim gets reported but is not fully investigated, then what the hell are we doing? That’s my … frustration with the whole thing.”

That’s exactly the issue. The victim reported the assault. There was no full investigation. There isn’t any excuse good enough for the lack of action taken by Geneseo.

Maria Pawlak is an English and political science major freshman who can usually be found in her natural habitat: ignoring a project and four chapters deep in a book she shouldn’t have picked up.