ASWSU urges Prosecutor to retry case

‘Sexual assault is unacceptable,’ Quinton Berkompas wrote on Twitter about retrying Dan Hargraves

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ASWSU urges Prosecutor to retry case

ASWSU President Quinton Berkompas discusses why ASWSU issued a press release calling for Dan Hargraves to be retried for first degree custodial sexual misconduct Tuesday in the ASWSU office. He said it took about two days to draft a statement.

ASWSU President Quinton Berkompas discusses why ASWSU issued a press release calling for Dan Hargraves to be retried for first degree custodial sexual misconduct Tuesday in the ASWSU office. He said it took about two days to draft a statement.

SERENA HOFDAHL

ASWSU President Quinton Berkompas discusses why ASWSU issued a press release calling for Dan Hargraves to be retried for first degree custodial sexual misconduct Tuesday in the ASWSU office. He said it took about two days to draft a statement.

SERENA HOFDAHL

SERENA HOFDAHL

ASWSU President Quinton Berkompas discusses why ASWSU issued a press release calling for Dan Hargraves to be retried for first degree custodial sexual misconduct Tuesday in the ASWSU office. He said it took about two days to draft a statement.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen Reporter

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ASWSU issued a press release Monday on Twitter calling for the Whitman County Prosecutor’s Office to retry former Pullman Police Sgt. Dan Hargraves, who was charged with first-degree custodial sexual misconduct.

The charges followed an incident which occurred in April 2018 involving a female WSU student. Hargraves was arrested Oct. 30, 2018 by the Washington State Patrol and resigned on Nov. 26.

Hargraves’ trial ended Sept. 19, 2019 and was declared a mistrial due to a hung jury. Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy said he was reviewing Hargraves’ case and would decide whether or not he was going to retry the case by the end of last week.

ASWSU President Quinton Berkompas said ASWSU decided to release a statement regarding the case because student safety and protection is the organization’s goal.

“I think if this case ends in a guilty or not guilty verdict, then the justice system has done its job and followed this all the way through,” he said. “If this stays a mistrial — I think that’s an injustice.”

Berkompas said he and ASWSU have been following Hargraves’ case since last year when arresting charges were made public.

He said ASWSU found out Hargraves’ case was ruled a mistrial around Sept. 20 and deliberated for about a week on whether the organization would issue a statement.

“I think this is one of the few spots in our criminal justice system where your public voice really matters and means something,” he said. “For us, this was a time that we could step forward and put out our voice, put out a statement saying, ‘This is what is best for students.’”

After deciding they would issue a statement, Berkompas said the administration spoke to Student Involvement advisers such as associate director Berto Cerillo and executive director Brian Shuffield.

ASWSU members involved included Vice President Jhordin Prescott, Chief of Staff and Finances Grace Hendrickson, Director of Legislative Affairs Josh Maasberg and himself, Berkompas said.

He said it took about two days to draft a statement. He said ASWSU issued a statement because it could have an impact on whether Hargraves’ case is retried.

COURTESY OF ASWSU

“This is ASWSU — we have a voice, right?” he said. “We can encourage the prosecutor to retry this, but that’s really the end of what our ability is. We obviously have limited ability to push this any further than we already have.”

Berkompas said ASWSU does not normally make statements on situations such as Hargraves’ case. He said the organization took time to make sure their statement was effective and articulate.

“I think it’s important that we, as a community, are saying ‘This behavior is not tolerated,’” he said.

On the ASWSU President Twitter account, Berkompas posted the press release as well as the statement: “Sexual assault is unacceptable. Victim blaming is unacceptable. Lack of justice is unacceptable #Ibelieveher.”

Berkompas said he wanted to emphasize the importance of supporting sexual assault survivors. He said the conversation surrounding sexual assault is bigger than Hargraves’ case.

“Retrying this case — it’s something that needs to happen, because we want to see justice,” he said.

Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy has been contacted for comment, but could not be reached before the deadline for this article.