By: TAYLOR HILL, KATELYN FIRESTEIN, TAYLOR WALDRON
Staff Writer, Editor-in-Chief, Staff Writer/Web Editor
TRIGGER WARNING: This article may be triggering for individuals who have experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other forms of violence.
Amid all of the chaos taking place for IU South Bend students this semester, another important matter seemed to fall through the cracks.
Former IU South Bend basketball player and student, Kourtlandt Martin was charged with “personal misconduct not on a university property by sexual penetration without consent by force” by the student conduct trial that was conducted by the University.
The complainant has not pursued legal action against Martin, therefore these charges were made by the University, not a court of law.
Former IU South Bend student and soccer player, Abby Cox, dated Martin for one month before their relationship ended. Following their breakup, on Nov. 23, 2019, Martin allegedly arrived at Cox’s apartment under false pretenses, according to the IU South Bend Title IX Decision Letter, sent by Cox.
That night, Martin allegedly sexually penetrated Cox without consent by force, twice, as stated in the Decision Letter.
According to the IU South Bend Title IX Decision Letter regarding this case, Martin “knowingly provid[ed] misinformation in text messages” sent to Cox before arriving at her apartment on Nov. 23.
“Regarding vaginal penetration without consent, the panel considered the parties’ statements to investigators and the text messages between the parties in which Complainant states multiple times that she does not want to engage in sex, and Respondent acknowledges her wishes multiple times,” as stated in the Decision Letter.
However, Martin allegedly disregarded this and forced himself on Cox twice, as stated by Cox and stated “more likely than not” by the Decision Letter. Cox added that Martin left after the assault, but later came back to the apartment to threaten her.
Cox explained that immediately after, she drove to her hometown of Mooresville, Indiana, and completed a rape kit at the local police station. She went back to campus the following Monday and talked to Laura Harlow, the Director of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Excellence with the Title IX office at IU South Bend.
Cox did not pursue legal action, and instead chose to handle her case through the University.
On Nov. 25, 2019, Cox said that she was provided the opportunity of counselling through IU South Bend and stated that she was told by Director of Student Conduct Araceli Lepe Moreno that the Title IX office would inform the Athletic Director, Steve Bruce.
According to the IU South Bend Student Athlete Handbook, a student athlete may be held accountable by the Athletic Department and the Student Services Judicial Office for participating in various behaviors that are prohibited in the handbook. These behaviors include but are not limited to hazing and harassment.
Cox expressed her frustrations explaining that it felt like progress in the student conduct case was slow. Cox stated that she had voiced these concerns to the Office of Student Conduct, as well as the Athletic Department.
According to Cox, while the University student conduct trial was ongoing, men’s basketball coach, Scott Cooper, and the Titan Athletic Director, Steve Bruce, informed her that they would not be able to take Martin off the team until he was found guilty.
The student conduct trial, which started with the incident on Nov. 23, 2019 and was first reported to the University on Nov. 25, was completed on Mar. 12, 2020.
“Regarding coercion through intimidation, Complainant stated she was afraid, that she heard a change in Respondent’s tone of voice, and that she felt a change in his energy,” according to the Decision Letter.
In consideration of the testimonies of both parties, the Decision Letter explains, “the panel determined that it is more likely than not that Respondent used deception and coercion…used intimidation while telling her to turn off the light, used physical restraint to move her body…and used force.”
Martin was charged with personal misconduct not on a university property by sexual penetration without consent by force by the panel of the University.
The decision was made “due to the finding of responsibility for two instances of vaginal penetration without consent and with force and for sexual harassment, and in consideration of the following aggravating factors: restraining the Complainant through physical force; engaging in coercion, manipulation, and deception through texts; engaging in intimidation when telling Complainant to turn off the light; and intimidating Complainant by entering her apartment without permission and taking her phone.”
In regard to the credibility of the testimonies of both Cox and Martin, the Decision Letter states, “Complainant told witnesses that she kept telling Respondent to get out of her apartment, which is consistent with what she shared with the investigator and police. The panel also considered that the Complainant got a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exam, a protective order, and filed a police report…regarding Respondent’s credibility, he stated in the hearing that he lied in text messages in an effort to compel Complainant to do what he wanted multiple times.” Respondent’s statements during the hearing were inconsistent with other statements provided to the investigator.
SANE exams are completed by nurses who have training in forensic and psychological examination, on top of the standard medical exam training, for sexual assault cases.
Martin was expelled from Indiana University, given a no trespass order for all IU campuses, and a no contact order with Cox through the University, according to the Decision Letter.
“Even after he’d been expelled, they are acting like nothing happened. He [was] still participating in his college life,” Cox said, “they really have not enforced any punishment. They have not taken him off the roster or deleted him from any of their social media. Which should have been done, he is a rapist.”
Martin has since received awards for his basketball career. He received a first-team honor and was awarded Newcomer of the Year at the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
He was awarded All-American by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). However, as of March 19 the NAIA updated their All-American Team, and Martin is now listed as an honorable mention instead.
Martin also attended the men’s basketball team dinner on March 18, 2020 despite the findings in the University trial and expulsion from IU South Bend, according to photos taken at the event which were posted by @iusbhoops on Mar. 19.
Due to Martin still playing while under University investigation, as well as continuing to receive awards, Cox does not feel that an appropriate amount of action has been taken.
“We really need a better policy, honestly. The Title IX director and everyone, they were great. They acted like they were on my side the entire time. But when it came down to him actually being disciplined, then it was money and basketball over anything else,” said Cox.
Cox has spoken outwardly about her case on her personal Twitter. On March 26, after posting about her case, Cox received multiple death threats from an unknown caller.
Cox mentioned Coach Cooper, Laura Harlow, and Chancellor Susan Elrod in her tweets regarding her feelings that the University investigation was postponed. The Preface attempted to contact these individuals to request their comments on the matter.
Chancellor Elrod did not respond as of the publication deadline. Neither Cooper nor Harlow commented, but forwarded their questions to Indiana University Director of Media Relations Chuck Carney.
According to Carney, “because of federal regulations protecting the privacy of all parties involved, Indiana University cannot discuss details of student conduct investigations, even if the parties themselves may have disclosed details publicly.”
Carney added, “it is not accurate to state an investigation was postponed. All Title IX matters take time to fully investigate and conclude, and all policies and procedures are carefully followed and monitored by Indiana University staff to ensure we maintain the integrity of investigation procedures.
It is important to note that only the office of student conduct controls when an investigation begins and concludes. The University can confirm the student athlete was removed from competition, which would have included the NAIA DII National Championship Tournament.”
The Tournament, along with all of NAIA’s Winter Championship events, was cancelled on Mar. 12. This was the same day the investigation was completed.
“I just want them to know that I am not going to be quiet until they take action,” Cox stated. She expressed her hope to help other survivors by speaking out about her experience.
“Just speak up, do not be quiet. They cannot silence us because everyone is going to judge you when you come out. I have gotten a lot of hate from my Twitter post, but that is not going to stop me from stating the facts and saying this happened, and I am not going to sit here and be quiet about it. Action needs to be taken,” explained Cox. Cox also advised survivors to seek help when needed.
Martin did not respond to The Preface staff’s multiple requests for comment by the time of publication.