Prosecutor dismisses charges against Southern athlete


Dean Dankelson, Jasper County Prosecutor

The Jasper County prosecutor’s office, led by prosecuting attorney Dean Dankelson, will not file the charge for sexual assault against a Missouri Southern athlete, according to Missouri Southern Police Chief Ken Kennedy.

“I spoke with them this week and I do not believe they will be filing charges at this time,” said Kennedy. “You don’t always get a definite answer of whether or not they will file charges in the future, but for right now, they will not be filing it.”

The prosecutor’s office did not share details.

Dean of Students Ron Mitchell and his office have also finished their investigation.

“We finished our investigation on late Tuesday afternoon and on Wednesday we were called into consultation with the University legal counsel,” said Mitchell.

FERPA laws prohibit Mitchell from discussing the decision they reached, but Mitchell clarified that his investigation was separate from that of the prosecutor’s office.

“I can speak in generalities, but I can’t share the exact thing,” said Mitchell.

According to Mitchell, the scale by which people are found guilty in the legal system is different than that in which he does. For Mitchell, student conduct policy and Title IX laws largely play into the decision. The burden of proof for law enforcement is guilty without a shadow of doubt, whereas for Mitchell it is preponderance of evidence.

“The criminal courts might find one way and not be able to prosecute, but we are on a different level—a lower level—of proof,” said Mitchell.

If an individual is found to have violated student conduct policy, Mitchell could hand out a range of punishment from a reprimand or probation to full-scale expulsion.

While the athlete had been suspended while the investigation was still ongoing, it is unknown whether he will begin participating this week now that charges won’t be pressed.

Athletic Director Jared Bruggeman could not be reached for comment.

The case being referred to occurred on Sept. 28. A Southern student reported being forcibly raped in a residence hall room on campus between 4 and 5 a.m. The victim reported the crime to the Joplin Police Department while seeking care at Freeman Hospital and from there it was turned over to the University Police. The suspect and victim were in a relationship according to the University Police; both are Southern students.