Special Reports

University Of Sussex Found To Have Failed In Assault Investigation


The University of Sussex has been found to have failed in four areas during its investigation on an assault case. The school has acknowledged its responsibility and has apologized for its mistakes.

The Guardian reported that the University of Sussex was found to have failed in taking care of a student who was assaulted by a lecturer. An independent review was conducted by Professor Nicole Westmarland of Durham University.

The report came after the university has faced backlash for its decision not to suspend senior lecturer Lee Salter. Salter was convicted of assaulting Allison Smith, a postgraduate student, last June. It was found that the University of Sussex only suspended the lecturer after the case was uncovered by the media in August. Salter resigned on the same day that the story was published to the public.

The report criticized the school for delaying the disciplinary procedures against Salter. It was only after his conviction that the university suspended him. However, it had stated in its rules that the procedures can be done independently from a police investigation.

Professor Westmarland's report noted that Salter met Smith during induction week. They began a relationship afterwards. However, in Sep. 2015, Salter punched Smith, knocked her unconscious, stamped on her and threw salt at her face.

Salter continued to teach at the University of Sussex in the 10 months between his arrest and conviction. According to BBC, the school had four areas of poor practice.

First, it was noted that the university failed to implement and follow its own policies and procedures regarding domestic abuse. Second, there was not enough risk assessment as it was found that the academic who assessed how much danger Salter posed on others only interviewed the man himself.

Third, an over-reliance and lack of scrutiny on human resources decision making was seen by Professor Westmarland. Lastly, the school failed to communicate with the victim as well as other organizations in a professional manner.

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