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Report finds UMass Dartmouth failed to disclose sexual assault allegations against former officer

UMass police cars parked outside the Department of Public Safety at UMass Dartmouth. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
UMass police cars parked outside the Department of Public Safety at UMass Dartmouth. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

UMass Dartmouth failed to alert both prosecutors and prospective employers that a former campus police officer resigned over allegations of sexual assault and harassment more than a decade ago, a university report found.
The report comes after a WBUR investigation found that the officer, David Laudon, went on to work for the Blackstone Police Department, where he was assigned to investigate sexual assaults and work with children in the local school system — despite allegations he had groped and sexually harassed a university student in 2010.

Laudon resigned from the Blackstone police a year ago, after WBUR brought the allegations to the department’s attention. The town, about an hour northwest of UMass Dartmouth, then launched its own investigation into how Laudon was hired.
The Blackstone review would later accuse the university of covering up the accusations by agreeing to provide a neutral recommendation to the officer’s future employers when he resigned. Blackstone investigators also alleged the university should have referred some of the allegations against Laudon to the Bristol County district attorney’s office for potential criminal prosecution.
UMass Dartmouth hired former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis last March to perform an “independent analysis” of the matter for the university. The school paid the Edward Davis Co. nearly $27,000 for the work, according to a UMass Dartmouth spokesperson.
Davis’ review confirmed the university did not share the allegations against Laudon. But it said university officials followed the school’s policies, in allowing Laudon to quietly resign.
“There is no indication of any attempt to prevent or conceal the sexual harassment allegations against David Laudon; however, existing policy prevented any meaningful disclosure of the investigation or results,” the report said.
The university first became aware of the allegations in October 2010, after a 20-year-old female student complained Laudon had groped her breast and harassed her through text messages and phone calls. At the end of the following month, the school’s office of Equal Opportunity, Diversity, and Outreach recommended Laudon “be immediately terminated from UMASS Dartmouth.” Instead, Laudon resigned the next week.
Laudon went on to apply for jobs with police departments in Blackstone and out of state, in Baltimore. In both instances, the report says, school officials confirmed only Laudon’s dates of employment and did not mention the allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

Former Blackstone officer David Laudon.
Blackstone Police Department
Former Blackstone officer David Laudon.

The UMass Dartmouth report said it was the university’s policy at the time to withhold further information, unless “the employee was subject to disciplinary procedures and fired for cause.” In Laudon’s case, he resigned before he could be fired or disciplined.
The UMass review said the campus police chief declined to pursue criminal charges against Laudon because the victim “declined to initiate a Harassment Protective Order” and later recanted part of her statement.
The report concludes by noting Massachusetts has since set up a state agency to license police officers, in part to make it harder for disgraced officers to simply move to a new department.

“UMass Dartmouth applauds the creation in 2020 of the Massachusetts Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission,” UMass Dartmouth spokesperson Ryan Merrill said in a statement.
Merrill said the school “fully complies with its reporting requirements, which ensure that information about a police officer’s misconduct is easily accessible to future employers in ways that were not possible in 2013.”
The POST commission also set up a public database of officer misconduct, which notes that Laudon resigned from the Blackstone Police Department in lieu of discipline after the department sustained allegations of “criminal conduct” and that he lied during an interview. POST’s database redacted further details of the criminal activity.
Laudon’s certification lapsed last summer and has not been renewed, meaning he cannot work as a police officer at any law enforcement agency in Massachusetts.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
Copyright 2024 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.

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