Home Campus Student Senate presidential election up in air following sexual assault allegations

Student Senate presidential election up in air following sexual assault allegations

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Student Senate. Photo by Tim Zelina.

Carlo DeNiro, an Ohio University student, rescinded his campaign for Ohio University Student Senate President after multiple anonymous sexual assault allegations were made public on social media.

DeNiro, who is also a member of the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha at Ohio U, was named in at least five anonymous allegations shared on the @OhioUSafe Twitter account.

OhioUSafe was created last month by an anonymous individual. At the end of June, numerous anonymous sexual assault allegations populated the account, including several lodged against DeNiro.

DeNiro was the sole candidate for Student Senate president and was on the UNITY Ticket. The position of president comes with a full tuition scholarship.

The UNITY Ticket also included vice presidential candidate Elizabeth Lilly and treasurer candidate Ian Carter, both members of greek life, who have since split off and created a new ticket — Voices for Ohio.

Shortly after the allegations were posted, the Ohio U Interfraternity Council Executive Board announced that DeNiro had been impeached and would no longer be the President of their council.

The Ohio University Judicial Panel issued a press release on the night of July 1 stating that DeNiro was not in violation of any existing Senate rules.

“As Mr. DeNiro is also still held in good standing with the university, the Panel has no authority within the Rules and Procedures or Student Senate Constitution to remove him from candidacy,” the release stated.

The interim senate executives released a counter statement the next day denouncing the panel’s decision.

“If the Judicial Panel is as troubled by these allegations as they have stated, it is their duty to make a different decision,” the press release stated.

Ohio U Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones and Director of the Survivor Advocacy Program Kim Castor released a statement via Twitter with resources about how to report incidents of sexual misconduct and how to receive support.

With DeNiro out of the running for Student Senate president, there are no candidates running for that position at this time. 

The panel will be conducting meetings with the interim senate executives in the upcoming week to discuss plans for the election, which includes the possibility of reopening applications for president.

After claiming to have received threats of litigation, the @OhioUSafe Twitter account has since stopped posting the allegations with the full names of the alleged abusers. Allegations are now posted with the first name of the alleged abuser.

It is unclear where DeNiro stands with the university.

“Due to federal privacy regulations, we cannot comment on allegations regarding a student,” Jim Sabin, an Ohio University spokesperson, wrote in an email.

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