QLD Uni Under Fire For Promoting Staff Member During Rape Investigation

James Cook University in Townsville is finding itself with a lot of difficult questions to answer after it emerged that they not only continued to employ but promoted one of their staff members after he was charged with digitally raping an Indigenous student. 
Douglas Steele, 33, was a staff member at JCU’s College of Healthcare Sciences when he invited the victim, who was a JCU student, and her male friend to his house to drink and watch TV. After several hours, the female student went to her friend’s house, where she passed out. Her friend called Steele for help; Steele arrived and went into the room under the pretense of assisting the woman. When he was alone with the woman, who was at that point semi-conscious and naked, he digitally penetrated her. 
The victim told her friend, they contacted the police, and ten days later, on October 6, 2015, Steele was formally charged with rape. He pleaded guilty less than a year later.
Astonishingly, JCU not only allowed Steele to continue working at the university while the investigation was ongoing, but promoted him to the position of academic adviser in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre.  This is a real thing that happened.
Nor did JCU fire the scumbag when he pleaded guilty to the charges in September 2016, despite the student giving up her studies in the wake of the incident. 
In fact, another staff member at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre gave the court a glowingly positive reference for Steele, saying his actions were “out of character“.
Are you sure? Because according to the court transcripts, Steele’s character seems to be slimy at best and deeply sinister at worst, with documents showing that he wilfully and rapidly changed his version of the events of the night in question:
“I only put one finger in, I didn’t think she would know because she was so drunk.”
“I only put my finger in and she was already wet.”
“The more I think about it, my finger just slipped in while I was moving her into the recovery position.”
My finger just slipped in. What a great guy.
Female Indigenous students are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other member of the population.
Sharna Bremner from the organisation End Rape On Campus has torn JCU a new one, telling News.com.au that the university’s actions constitute “an extreme level of institutional betrayal” and “a complete dereliction of duty of care”.
What message does that send other victims in the student body? It sends the message that survivors are nowhere near as important as staff members. It sends the message that other victims in the university community shouldn’t bother reporting because the university [may] side with the perpetrator.
Fucken oath, Sharna. 
JCU purports to follow a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault and harrassment, having partnered with the Universities Australia campaign “Respect. Now. Always“, but the uni has been dogged in recent years by no less than nine high-profile rape and assault incidents on campus, including one gang rape. None of these have resulted in serious consequences from the university. 
Steele was sentenced on Monday to two years’ jail, of which he will serve four months. He has been “allowed to resign” from his position at JCU. 

If you’ve been assaulted or harrassed by someone in a position of power, you can contact 1800 RESPECT and ask to talk to a trauma counsellor. You can also pursue action through your university if the incident/s happened on campus – try Googling “sexual harrassment/assault + [your uni]” and following the contacts listed. 

Source: News.com.au
Image: James Cook University.