3 College Officials Fired for Mishandling Assault

St. Louis Community College at Meramec Campus Police Chief Paul Banta, Community College District Chief of Police Robert Stewart and Vice President of Student Affairs Linden Crawford have been removed from their positions for mishandling the attempted strangulation of a student by another student in a campus restroom.

The announcement was made on Thursday; the same day a report by the college was released alleging “system-wide failures of campus and district law enforcement, administration and communications, which resulted in an unnecessary threat to the campus from an individual who should have remained in custody rather than being allowed to roam free after the commission of a major felony.”

The incident in question occurred April 18 at 8 a.m. when Blythe Grupe, 19, was in the women’s restroom. Jevon Mallory, 18, put her in a headlock and tried to silence her. The suspect was arrested and then released shortly after the incident, having received only a verbal warning not to return to campus. Additionally, the college did not send an alert out to the campus community about the event.

After the victim and her family contacted local media, Mallory was re-arrested the following week and charged with assault on school property. School officials acknowledged that they should have informed the campus of the incident sooner, noting that initially, police did not view the attack as serious.

“From the perspective of the Board of Trustees, 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, did not seize control of a bad situation,” said Board Chair Craig Larson in a prepared statement.

Larson said that the board has reviewed and accepted the findings of the investigation and has directed the college administration to implement the recommended changes to ensure a safe environment for students, faculty and staff, and to create a strong culture of open communications throughout the college community.

He also reported that he had been in contact with the victim and her family to offer an official apology from the trustees and the college, and share the results of the investigation.

Larson also recognized the personal courage of instructor Aurora Hill, who interrupted the assault and held the assailant until the campus police arrived. 

The report found:

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