By Diane Heldt and Vanessa Miller
IOWA CITY — One state regent says he wants a discussion about the rehire of state university employees, in the wake of the resignation of a University of Iowa Athletics Department adviser whom the university investigated for sexual harassment violations.
Bob Downer, an Iowa City attorney and a member of the state Board of Regents, said Monday that given what he has read in media reports, he has concerns about the UI’s rehire of Peter Gray, who worked in the Athletics Department from 1993 to 1995 and again starting in 2002.
Gray, whose title was associate director of athletic student services, resigned last week amid accusations that he provided football tickets and money for sexual favors and inappropriately touched student-athletes. According to internal documents obtained by the Iowa City Press-Citizen, several people told UI investigators that the touching behavior took place during Gray’s first time of employment with the university and continued during his second.
It will be important for the regents to discuss what sort of policies are in place about the rehire of former employees at all three of the state’s regent universities, and to make sure those policies are being followed, Downer said. He’s unsure if there even is a policy governing what factors might disqualify someone for rehire by the universities, he said.
“As far as the difficulties that he apparently got into during his first employment, it’s hard for me to see, assuming these (news) stories are accurate, how he passed muster for re-employment,” Downer said. “And to me that’s a significant issue in terms of policies for all of the universities, that if there are these sorts of things on someone’s record, how they would slip through for re-employment.”
The documents obtained last week show that an internal UI investigation of Gray turned up a “reasonable basis to conclude” that he violated the UI’s policy on sexual harassment. The document, dated Oct. 24, details the university’s findings regarding a formal complaint of sexual harassment and violations of other policies.
University officials have said they will not comment on Gray’s resignation or the leaked internal report because it involves confidential personnel issues.
The internal document says there were reports of multiple incidents where Gray inappropriately touched student-athletes; made comments of a sexual nature to prospective student-athletes and their parents; and kept suggestive sexual images on his work computer, among other complaints.
In an initial response Monday to The Gazette’s open records requests, university officials said several top administrators, including President Sally Mason, had no emails about Gray or the investigation.
The UI Department of Public Safety doesn’t have any criminal complaints associated with Gray, but he was listed as an “other person” — not a suspect — on an incident report that alleged “improper use of complimentary tickets by athletic staff.” University police determined that report to be unfounded on Oct. 24.