Section: archive

Zingarelli acquitted

By Sam Colt

Stephen Zingarelli, 22, a former Kenyon student, was found not guilty in June of rape and gross sexual imposition. Another Kenyon student brought the charges against him, alleging that the crime occurred on College property.

Zingarelli waived his right to a trial by jury. His case was decided by Judge Otho Eyster.

The Mount Vernon News first reported Zingarelli’s acquittal. The News cited Zingarelli’s attorney, Jim Giles ’78, who initially claimed that Campus Safety and the Knox County Sheriff’s office “rushed to judgment” in their response to the incident, a comment he later clarified to the Collegian. “My client was drummed out of school, arrested and charged before anybody knew all the background facts,” Giles said.

The assistant prosecutor who handled the case, Jennifer Springer, who has since left the prosecutor’s office, denied rushing to judgment.

“It is our job to then take the evidence that we have and prove Mr. Zingarelli guilty of every element of each charge beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden of proof that must be met,” Springer wrote. “We were unable to do this at the bench trial of this matter.” Springer noted that a grand jury found probable cause to indict Zingarelli.

Springer said circumstantial evidence and a lack of eyewitnesses make cases like this one difficult to prosecute. She advised Kenyon students who believe they have been the victim of a crime to immediately contact both Safety and emergency services.

The case became controversial soon after Zingarelli was indicted in December. Toutain said, during the summer, that he did not expect the case’s resolution to bring about a change in the College’s sexual misconduct policy, but that it could change the information first years receive during sessions related to sexual misconduct at the beginning of the year.

Giles said he hopes to work with administrators to find a way for Zingarelli to complete his degree and had set up a meeting with Dean of Students Hank Toutain. “We certainly think the College should come up with a plan for getting this young man a Kenyon diploma,” Giles said when interviewed in July.

It appears unlikely that Zingarelli will return to Kenyon in the near future. Giles told the Collegian last Tuesday, “I spoke to Dean Toutain once. Instead of working with us directly, he had the College’s lawyers contact me,” he said. “They contend that Kenyon policy and Title IX require Stephen to complete the College’s disciplinary process before anything can be discussed. I have referred Stephen to counsel with expertise in this area.”

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