Sex offender will be escorted off campus, University of Calgary says
Connor Neurauter's presence would raise safety concerns, official says
Senior administration at the University of Calgary is standing by its decision not to expel a convicted sex offender whose presence on campus has raised safety concerns for students and Connor Neurauter himself.
While there has been no expulsion, the university has made it clear that Neurauter is not welcome.
"If he was to show up on campus, campus security will escort him off campus," university provost Dru Marshall said Friday.
The university announced Thursday it has no grounds to expel Neurauter because the offence occurred before the 21-year-old native of Kamloops, B.C., was enrolled as a student. It instead advised him to stay away.
Neurauter pleaded guilty to one count of sexual interference involving a 13-year-old girl in Kamloops in 2015. He was 18 at the time.
Because Neurauter hasn't been expelled he could continue his course work, although the details haven't been worked out.
"We're currently working with Connor to discuss how he might do that," said Marshall.
The university confirmed that Neurauter could return to campus in the fall, but no decisions have been made and his future as a student is still being assessed. Marshall was asked if Neurauter has indicated whether he's thinking of changing universities.
"I think Mr. Neurauter is considering his options right now," she said.
Marshall told reporters in a conference call Friday that Neurauter's presence might be triggering for students, including those who experienced sexual violence in the past.
"There are a number of safety concerns that we took into account in our decision. We know that victims of sexual violence may have been triggered by this incident and we're also worried about [Neurauter's] safety," said Marshall.
Marshall was asked whether the school is aware of any direct threats against Neurauter.
"There have been discussions on social media, there have been no direct threats that the university has received, other than what we have read in the public domain," said Marshall.
The university says it is committed to reviewing its sexual violence policy but is calling for a broader discussion involving Canadian universities to discuss potentially new or amended policies.
"We think it's time we come together as a collective to ensure the safety and security of our environments on our campuses," said Marshall.
'We love and support our son'
Neurauter's parents, Chris and Susan Neurauter, issued a statement to CBC News expressing support for their son and concern over how the media have covered the story.
"We love and support our son. Since he was arrested he has done his best to be respectful of the legal system and the other individuals involved in this matter," the statement read in part.
"We are disappointed in the distorted and sensationalistic coverage by the media and believe them to be entirely complicit in the attempts of one individual to crush a young man that has genuinely tried to do his best in this bad situation. We are proud of how [he] has and continues to handle himself.
"We would like to profusely thank our friends and family for their support. Most of us remember being 18 and the challenges that were involved. This has been a nightmare for our family, one that none of us, but particularly our children, are equipped to handle. We would not wish this situation on anyone," read the statement.
More than 50,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the university to expel Neurauter.
Kaitlyn Casswell, who started the petition, questions the university's decision against expulsion.
"To say that I am disappointed… is an understatement," she said.
"Nowhere, that I can see, does it specify in their sexual violence policy that the offence had to occur during his time as a student. What that policy does say, is that if the university becomes aware that a student has committed a sexual offence, they can be expelled," said Casswell.
She said the petition will remain active until a final decision is made.
Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.