Experts call the heinous act of sexual assault “a crime of opportunity.”
“There's somebody who is waiting for the right opportunity to take advantage of someone,” said Mary Brennan-Taylor, vice president of the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier.
Police say that opportunity came last July, when DeJuan Hunt, a Niagara Falls man, showed up at Niagara County Community College.
Hunt, according to police and school officials, harassed three women on campus before he cornered another and tried to sexually assault her on July 19.
At the time, school leaders were criticized for failing to notify students about those July 19 attacks. That's because two weeks later – on August 3 -- police say hunt returned to campus and allegedly struck again.
Hunt died in jail before he could be tried for the crimes, but secret audio tapes obtained by 7 Eyewitness News show that president James P. Klyczek and his top administrators not only failed to notify students about the attacks, but they also:
- Blamed the victims of the sexual attacks
- Made comments that left a sex assault expert shocked
- And may have violated a new state policy on how college are supposed to respond to sexual assaults.
Klyczek said of the July 19 victim, who says she was assaulted near the campus library:
“What is she stupid? I mean, no, seriously. This just aggravates me. Make us the guilty party because you're too stupid to follow your instinct that this guy sits down next to you and there's nobody else around, you agree to take him on a tour. That is as dumb as can be.”
The middle-aged victim said she wanted her daughter to attend NCCC when she got older -- but after the sexual attack, she no longer felt the school was safe.
In the tapes, which were provided to 7 Eyewitness News from a source close to Klyczek, the longest-serving president in school history said:
“Her daughter should be worried, because if she's got her mother's genes, she's dumber than a doorknob.”
Brennan-Taylor, who counsels rape victims, said that while she wouldn't refer to this specific case, she couldn't help but wince when she heard the remarks.
“That's victim blaming, and that's not only unfair…that's unethical and that's ignorant on the part of the individual who has those questions,” Brennan-Taylor said. “A sexual assault is never, ever, ever the victim's fault.”
7 Eyewitness News requested an interview with Klyczek and the other administrators who were present at two meetings upon which the tapes were based. They declined our interview request and Klyczek hasn't talked to 7 Eyewitness News since we first uncovered a bid-rigging scandal three months ago.
“I have no comment,” Klyczek said at the time.
"...failed my child and the community,"
Brennan said during the first six weeks of the school year, colleges need to take extra steps to protect vulnerable students -- like the freshman who says she was walking through a building on the NCCC campus in August when she was ambushed by Hunt.
“Um, do you guys work here?” the victim told college employees who were nearby. “Because that dude running that way just tried raping me in there.”
The victim said Hunt dragged her into a dark hallway and tried to assault her before she escaped.
She and her mother told her story to 7 Eyewitness News after the August 3rd attack because they were furious that after the first attempted rape two weeks earlier, college officials:
- Sent no emails to students warning them about Hunt or informing them about the attacks
- Sent no text messages from RaveAlert, their emergency alert system
- And put no pictured of Hunt on campus TV sets
“It not only failed my child and the community, it failed the individuals who were attacked on the 19th,” said the mother of the August 3 victim. “If a warning would have went out after the first one, then a second one possibly would not have happened, or the third, or the fourth. I'm disgusted with what they've done…or should I say, lack of what they've done.”
College officials said they did nothing wrong, because the first victim did not want to pursue criminal charges until Hunt was arrested for the August 3 attack.
But the audio tapes of the August meeting show Klyczek grilling his top administrators over their response.
“So I guess what will sound funky to a parent is, ‘This guy goes and harasses three or four people on the same day and you don't do anything?’” Klyczek said. “Did we do anything on television monitors to say there's this guy walking around on campus and he's harassed four people already?”
Francis Giles, the security director, tells Klyczek they were not technically required to report the four incidents under the federal Clery Act, which was enacted after the rape and murder of Pennsylvania college student Jeanne Clery in 1986.
But the law clearly states:
"An institution must...report to the campus community on crimes that are...considered by the institution to represent a threat to students and employees."
Klyczek, “Be a father for a minute. So your daughter's here and some guy goes around and hits up four women and what did we do? Send him a letter?”
Giles says his security guards kicked Hunt off campus after the first attempt.
Later in the tapes, Giles calls one of the victims:
“Someone who is trying to self-gloss and embellish their own side for a lawsuit.”
He goes on to question why the victim was walking, not running, when she escaped her attacker, and says:
"I think this girl sees a meal ticket now...She's taking this ...and running with it.”
Through a spokeswoman, Giles also declined an interview. He was not in his office when we went to campus for a response, but a security guard said he would take down our number so that he could reach us. Giles never called back.
NCCC vice presidents Julia Pitman and Mike Dombrowski both urge Giles not to blame the victim, but at different points in the meeting they each question some of the victims' actions.
Dombrowski said: “You know, I think she's fishing a little bit…It just doesn't pass the smell test to me…”
Dombrowski also was not around when we tried to visit him at his office and a spokeswoman said he didn’t want to be interviewed.
Brennan-Taylor, of the YWCA, again couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“People are not going to report sexual assaults for any of those reasons,” she said. “A sexual assault has occurred, and to have the courage to come forward and say that one of the most horrific things that can happen has happened to them…that takes a very brave individual.”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s “Enough is Enough” legislation was meant to help the types of victims who were assaulted at NCCC.
That legislation states that victims have the right to: "Be free from any suggestion that the victim/survivor is at fault"..."or should have acted in a different manner to avoid such a crime."
NCCC released a statement to 7 Eyewitness News this afternoon. It says, in part, "At her request, the employee escorted her to her car so she could leave the campus, and immediately reported the incident to college security. NCCC security removed the suspect from campus, and reached out to the woman, who gave a statement indicating she had been sexually harassed. She did not claim to have been assaulted, and chose not to involve the police in the situation.
On August 3, 2016, the suspect was caught on-campus, and was removed for trespassing and arrested for attempted sexual assault in the first degree. The victim of that incident claimed he had grabbed her and attempted to remove her clothing. She chose to involve police and press charges...at that time, the first victim decided to press charges.
The safety and security of our students and employees are a top priority at NCCC."
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Charlie Specht is an Investigative Reporter for 7 Eyewitness News. You can see more of his investigations here