4/4/2015 update: Shelly Kerr is the UO Counseling Center Director who handed over Jane Doe’s counseling records, at the request of Interim UO GC Doug Park. New legislation would make that illegal. Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum on the RG Op-Ed page:
We like to think of college as a wonderful time of growth and learning. The reality in Oregon, however, is that college can be a very dangerous period for too many young women.
Recent events have given our students a good reason to worry that when they have been sexually assaulted and want to have the benefit of victims’ support and counseling services, they cannot trust their college to protect their privacy. That is because Oregon is one of only 10 states without confidentiality protections for victims seeking services from domestic violence or sexual assault advocates.
It is time for Oregon to step forward and ensure the privacy of victims’ communications and records. We know that many students who have been sexually assaulted are choosing not to seek critically needed help. Studies indicate that the primary reason victims of sexual assault do not come forward is that they fear disclosure of extremely private and potentially embarrassing information — without their consent. All too often, this fear is justified. …
4/3/2015 update: Students rally in support of Karen Stokes and transparency
Dozens of University of Oregon students rallied at noon Friday in support of a counseling center employee who says she was fired because she was a whistleblower.
Karen Stokes, who was executive assistant to the director of the counseling center, announced she had been terminated in a March 26 e-mail sent to counseling center staff.
The reason, she said in the e-mail, was her public criticism of the university’s “unethical” collection of a student’s therapy records in preparation for litigation.
A UO spokesman said a week ago that Stokes wasn’t fired but merely “transitioning.”
On Friday, spokeswoman Julie Brown said Stokes is still in the university’s employ, but Brown couldn’t say in what position or capacity or whether her job was permanent or temporary. …
3/26/2015 update: It’s looking more and more like the story goes like this: UCTC Director Shelly Kerr told Karen Stokes she was fired. Stokes wrote the email in the RG story and sent it to the UCTC staff and the RG. Klinger was out of the loop, perhaps because he just was, perhaps because the admins don’t trust his judgement after his disastrous press release on the archivists. Someone in JH read the post on my blog or the RG website. They quickly told Kerr to back off, told Stokes they’d find her a job somewhere else at UO if she’d stop talking to reporters, and told Klinger to feed this to the press, pronto.
Update: The RG story has now been updated with a challenge from Duck Advocate and Presidential Spokesperson Tobin Klinger of Ms Stokes’s description of events. Purely coincidental, Klinger seems to think. Of course Klinger also thought UO wasn’t filing a counterclaim against the survivor of the alleged basketball gang rape – or at least that’s what he told reporters.
Meanwhile, Saul Hubbard of the RG reports that the Oregon House is considering a law that would make a repeat of Doug Park’s seizure of UO student counseling records illegal:
The bill also would prevent an aspect of the UO case that has troubled many members of the campus community and outside observers: the administration accessing the victimized student’s confidential therapy records at the UO’s Counseling and Testing Center as she was preparing to file her lawsuit against the school.
After a staff therapist revealed the administration’s action and a barrage of criticism ensued, UO officials returned the records last week. They claimed they had accessed the records in response to the student’s lawyer seeking potentially relevant documents to the case, and that no one in the university’s general counsel office had actually reviewed them.
|Interim President Scott Coltrane||Interim Provost Frances Bronet|
3/26/2015: Rumor has it that they’ve now fired at least one of the counseling center employees who objected to UCTC Director Shelly Kerr’s decision to hand over “Jane Doe’s” confidential counseling records to the UO General Counsel’s office.
Now confirmed, by Diane Dietz in the RG here. Ms Stokes’s special crime? Telling the truth:
Karen Stokes, former executive assistant to the director of the counseling center, announced her dismissal in an e-mail broadcast to counseling center staff today.
Stokes and senior staff therapist Jennifer Morlok alleged in February that the university interfered with the student’s care and took the student’s private medical records — to prepare for litigation — without the student’s permission.
In Thursday’s e-mail, Stokes wrote: “I am disappointed that the UO has chosen this course of action. I, along with Jenny, had hoped that our letter of concern regarding the medical records that we believe were unethically and illegally disclosed would promote positive changes.
“Instead of taking our concerns to heart and recognizing the courage it took to come forward with such concerns, the UO appears to be more concerned about defending itself and attacking those who brought the ethical and legal concerns to light,” Stokes wrote.