University of Iowa responds after dozens accuse man of sexual harassment

Zach Berg, Press Citizen Published 1:44 p.m. CT June 12, 2018 | Updated 4:08 p.m. CT June 12, 2018

The University of Iowa responded Tuesday following hundreds of social media posts from women saying they were sexually harassed online and in person by a man who is a student at the university.  

A Twitter post Sunday afternoon had a simple request: Retweet, or share, the tweet if you had been hit on by the man.

The tweet spawned 1,200 retweets and drew 220 comments, mostly from women sharing screenshots of unwanted, and some overtly sexual, comments they received through social media from allegedly the same man in question. 

Other tweets showed women sharing stories about being sexually assaulted and stalked by the man. 

Jeneane Beck, assistant vice president for external relations at UI, said in an email Tuesday that UI has received two reports from one person that were filed to the UI Police Department, both in relation to current student Nick Caracci Jr. over alleged online harassment. Caracci is listed as a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences student in the UI online directory. 

Hayley Bruce, public information officer for the UI Department of Public Safety, said the dates of the two reports were Dec. 5, 2017, and April 27, 2018. 

While the university has said it is taking the allegations posted online seriously, Beck said in the email, Twitter and other social media comments do not constitute official complaints. 

“Social media is a powerful tool for raising awareness, but we are limited in the actions we can take in response to anonymous reports,” Beck said in the email. “We ask that anyone who has received harassing messages or unwanted contact report it to university officials and/or law enforcement to ensure prohibited behavior is addressed under university policies and/or criminal statutes.”

Anyone who wishes to file a complaint should contact UIPD at 319-335-5022. To learn more about addressing this and similar issues, the university said to call the Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator at 319-335-6200.  

The official University of Iowa Twitter account, @uiowa, was tagged in many of the women’s tweets and sent individual responses urging those who unwillingly interacted with the man to contact University Counseling Services, the Office of Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator, the Rape Victim Advocacy Program and other resources. The tweets also said that UI had contacted the Dean of Students office. 

Early Tuesday morning, the @uiowa Twitter account shared this message: 

“The University of Iowa does not condone sexual misconduct of any kind. The university takes these allegations seriously and is working to learn more. Under Iowa law, we are not able to disclose the status of an investigation. Thank you for your patience as we follow our standard processes to address this matter.”

It is not yet known if other incidents involving Caracci have been reported in Iowa City. A call to the Iowa City Police Department’s public information officer was not immediately returned Tuesday  

The Twitter conversation started with women sharing their stories about the man adding them on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms without having ever met them. He’d message women asking to meet. 

Many women would block him on Facebook, only to see him reach out again through another Facebook page, according to the social media posts. 

Some women shared more troubling instances, including stalking and sexual assault. Others said over Twitter that he sent messages to women in Illinois and Oklahoma, far beyond the scope of UI. 

UI students who are seeking help dealing with sexual harassment, or other similar issues, can contact one of these sources:

  • UI Counseling Services: 319-335-7294
  • Dean of Students Office: 319-335-1162
  • Women’s Resource and Action Center: 319-335-1486
  • Rape Victim Advocacy Program: 319-335-6000
  • The Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator: 319-335-6200

Reach Zach Berg at 319-887-5412, [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @ZacharyBerg. 

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