When “Jane” was asked by Brian Schrader, a tenured professor of psychology at Emporia State, to go into a storage room on campus to discuss her grade, she was surprised and confused. She noticed a cardboard box leaning against a window, blocking the view from the hallway. The blinds were closed to the outside window and there were two chairs facing each other in the middle of the room.
Not only could no one look into the room, Jane said later, but Schrader was standing in front of the door -- the one exit from the room -- and the lights were out. The professor touched her inappropriately and tried to kiss her.
This story is the story Jane told campus police and others in the hours and weeks and months that followed. It is the story that Jane, an undergraduate Korean student, told The Bulletin, the campus newspaper. Even after a secret university investigation found a “preponderance of evidence” that Schrader had violated the university sexual misconduct policy--meaning that Jane’s story was credible and that Schrader had likely committed the acts she described-- he remained employed, taught classes, and advised undergraduate students.
Jane, meanwhile, felt “hopeless” and betrayed by a university system she didn’t understand--and one that demanded her silence.
Empowered is continuing to withhold Jane’s real name to protect her against the stigma of reporting sexual misconduct. Empowered has chosen to name Schrader because of the “preponderance of evidence” that indicated he violated the university’s sexual conduct policy, according to the final summary of the investigation written by Ray Lauber, director of Human Resources, Affirmative Action and Title IX Coordinator, on July 17, 2017.
Schrader has worked at Emporia State for 21 years, starting in August 1996, according to his linkedin and received his PhD in psychology from Louisiana State University in 1993, according to emporia.edu. He was made adviser for all psychology undergraduates earlier this year in January of 2018, according to Jim Persinger, chair of the psychology department.
Schrader is also the assistant preacher at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 1508 W 12th Ave.
The release of Jane’s story sparked ongoing campus-wide dialogue and prompted the university to create a task force that will re-examine how it deals with sexual assault complaints on campus and possibly lead to reform.
Additionally, the university announced that they would no longer require people involved in sexual assault and harassment claims to sign non-disclosure agreements. President Allison Garrett cited the Department of Education’s changing guidelines for ending the usage of non-disclosure agreements.
Since then, another Title IX investigation on Schrader has been announced and he has been put on paid administrative leave. An independent, private law firm has been tasked at looking at this case.
Jane’s story was reported by “The Kansas City Star,” “The Wichita Eagle,” “The Emporia Gazette,” and others. It also led to an Emporia Gazette editorial that said Schrader should be fired and accused Garrett of having a lack of empathy.
With these stories, Jane, an anonymous Korean student, was made the most famous undergraduate on campus.
Jane broke her obligations to the university under the “Notice of Confidentiality and Non-Retaliation,” a contract that Emporia State required her to sign after she reported the sexual assault. The notice prohibited Jane from speaking about her case to others - and threatened discipline if she did.
“When I was seeking help from police, from the school administrators, I was anticipating that they would help me, because I was sexually assaulted,” said Jane. “I really believed that the school would help me, but during the process the result is right now. The professor came back to the school. I’m very frustrated and feel like giving up. I feel like no one is really going to stand for me in the school.”
Since the story first broke in The Bulletin in mid-February, Jane said that she has not yet heard from any ESU administrators, nor has she been notified that the non-disclosure agreement she signed was dissolved after her Title IX investigation was over.
Jane was nervous about telling The Bulletin her story, because she wasn’t sure it would do any good.
“Things didn’t turn out good in my past experience with school administrators so I feel really tired from meeting with people and having interviews,” Jane said. “I’m afraid. I’m feeling like ‘Is there going to be any changes? Even though I’m doing this right now.’ I just feel very tired, kind of hopeless.”
However, after the story broke, ESU held separate town hall and informational meetings in late February and early March about sexual harassment on campus.The controversy also prompted a “Justice for Jane” protest early March on campus.
Although university police and human resources found, based on a “preponderance of evidence,” that Schrader was likely responsible, he apparently faced little or no discipline. During the informational meeting in March, Garrett said that a panel of tenured faculty found there was insufficient evidence to fire Schrader. At the meeting, Provost David Cordle indicated he had recommended firing.
Schrader was placed on paid administrative leave in late March as a result of a new Title IX investigation. The new case was announced in a campus-wide email, but the message gave few details. Garrett later said the investigation will be conducted up by Husch Blackwell, a Kansas City, Mo., law firm. Husch Blackwell is being paid a flat fee of $13,000 to conduct the investigation, according to the firm’s contract with the university, which was obtained recently through an Open Records request.
Schrader has declined or ignored repeated requests for comment.
Jane’s ordeal began when Schrader sent her an email that accused her of cheating in his Statistics I class by using chegg.com for her homework and requested that she visit his office to discuss ESU’s academic dishonesty policy. Jane said she wasn’t aware that it was cheating, because she paid for the tutoring service and the assistance.
“The professor told me (in his office) ‘Since you did a wrong thing, you need to do something to raise up,’” Jane said. “I said, ‘Do I need to do the chapter again and turn the homework in again?’ He said no.”
Every time Jane would make a suggestion of what she could do, such as writing an essay or turning in extra credit, Schrader would tell her no. After a while, she grew silent. When Schrader told her he needed to report her for academic dishonesty, she began to cry.
She felt completely helpless.
“He asked me ‘Do you need a tissue?’” Jane said. “I nodded and said ‘Yes.’ He grabbed a tissue and while he tried to pass the tissue, he held my hand and rubbed his thumb on my hand.”
When talking about this scene with a reporter from The Bulletin, Jane reinacted the scene and explained how tightly she felt Schrader hold her hand. It was at this point she began crying and picking at her black nail polish.
Jane said she felt strange when he touched her and she knew that this wasn’t right. Jane said she tried to pull away, but he held her hand tightly while trying to meet her eyes. It was three or four minutes before he let go, Jane said.
“I was trying to avoid his eyes,” Jane said. “I felt like I wanted to escape his office. He was asking me ‘If you want’ and he said another sentence, but I only heard ‘another person’ and ‘private’ so I understood that sentence to be like, ‘I cried in his office so I need to go in another room and try to have a conversation with another person in the private room.’”
This was when Jane agreed to leave the office with him and found herself, after moving through two locked doors, in his storage space, where the incident occured.
After Schrader reportedly tried to kiss her in the storage room, and when Jane moved away, he asked if she wanted to leave. She said yes and went out of the door.
“My stuff was still in his office so I went to his office again and I got my stuff,” Jane said. “He also came to his office and sat in his chair and he said something but I didn’t understand. He mentioned ‘options,’ and I was really upset
about this word, because it feels like that was one of his options.”
As she told her story, Jane continued picking at her now cracked black nail polish. She was uncomfortable, and I asked her if she would like to take a break. She shook her head ‘no. ‘
“This is important,” she said.
Jane asked him if all professors from the U.S. acted that way, but she was so upset she could not understand his response.
When asked about the incident before the first Jane story printed in The Bulletin, Schrader said, “I think at this point, I’ll just have to say I’m not going to comment.”
Jane immediately disclosed the incident to her friend and then her academic advisor, which was then reported to campus police and then to Title IX officers who conducted an investigation.
Throughout the process, Jane said that she didn’t feel that she was getting very much support from the university. According to Jane, her academic adviser was the only one who offered her any support or asked if she was okay.
“It seemed like it wasn’t going to be taken seriously,” Jane said. “It feels like ‘Are they going to be helpful to me? Are they really going to help me to try and resolve this problem?’ I didn’t think they were going to.”
The first disappointment came on June 30, 2017, when an ESU officer informed her that the County Attorney would not pursue charges, Jane said.
The next, and larger, disappointment came on July 21, 2017, with a letter from David Cordle, that did not include an outcome from the investigation, Jane said.
This was after Lauber said in his Summary of Investigation that he found that there was a preponderance of evidence in Jane’s favor. Preponderance of evidence is “a requirement that more than 50 percent of the evidence points to something. This is the burden of proof in a civil trial,” according to Cornell Law School’s Legal Institute.
Preponderance of evidence is the university’s standard when investigating Title IX cases, according to Lauber.
According to Lauber, the investigation’s result doesn’t determine if a criminal act has been committed. That finding has to be made by the University Police Department.
“The investigation finds a preponderance of evidence that Dr. Schrader abused his authority as professor and violated ESU’s sexual harassment policy by inviting Jane to another room in return for not reporting Jane for academic misconduct,” Lauber said in the summary.
“I agree with the findings that Dr. Schrader abused his authority as professor and violated ESU’s sexual harassment policy,” Cordle said, in his letter notifying Jane of the investigation’s final determination. “Although I am unable to disclose specific details of the consequences to Dr. Schrader, please know that we are addressing his actions in accordance with ESU policy and applicable state and federal laws.”
In his letter, Cordle tells Jane that she had 30 days to submit a written appeal, but it was unclear how she should do that or what she would be appealing.
“We hope that overall your experience as a student at Emporia State University has been positive, and we regret that in this instance it was not,” Cordle said in the notification letter. “Best regards.”
Jane insisted on knowing the outcome, but no one would answer her questions, so she submitted an appeal.
In the appeal, which Jane wrote with the help of SOS, she talked about how she struggled since the incident.
Jane said she did not hear from the university officials again until Dec. 7 when they informed her Schrader would be coming back to campus.
Nearly a year later, Jane continues to deal with the aftereffects of the incident, saying she has been extremely depressed and anxious since the assault.
However, Jane said she was thankful to all the students, staff and faculty who showed support to her. Since the story came out, Jane reported feeling less anxious, because people knew what happened to her and it wasn’t a secret anymore.
“He may have done the same thing to other students that he did to me,” Jane said. “I want to inform other students that there are institutions and procedures that (they) can consult if the same thing happens to (them).”
Jane says there has not been a day on campus go by that she hasn’t thought about what she says happened that day in the storage room in Visser Hall.
“I saw a lot of American men and they looked like Brian Schrader,” Jane said in the appeal. “I was filled with fear and suddenly my mood fell. I will face a Brian Schrader every day when the semester starts. His office is on the third floor and most of my psychology classes are on the third floor. I do not want to live day after day as I face Brian Schrader.”