Nasiru Seidu, 39, of Orem, UT, went on a date with 19-year-old BYU student, Madi Barney. They went to her off-campus residence. According to the police reports, Seidu and Barney engaged in some sexual activity. At some point, she alleges that she wanted to stop, and began to put her clothes back on. It is also alleged that he pushed her back onto the bed and continued having sex with her. When she told him no, he forced her to the ground and continued having sex. After being arrested and booked into the Utah County jail, police interviewed Seidu who said the sex was completely consensual and that he stopped when she asked him to.
Pretty basic “She Said, He Said” rape case. Happens pretty frequently.
Essential Facts of the Date in Question
1. Accuser is a student at BYU. (Uncontested)
2. Accuser and Defendant go on date. (Uncontested)
3. Accuser and Defendant return to Accuser’s residence. (Uncontested)
4. Accuser and Defendant have sexual contact. (Uncontested)
5. Accuser tells Defendant to stop. (Uncontested)
6. Accuser claims Defendant forcibly continued to have sex with her. (Contested)
7. Defendant claims he stopped when Accuser said. (Contested)
Now, here’s where the case wanders into the weeds.
Some time in November 2015, one Utah County Sheriff’s Deputy named Edwin Randolph, also a track coach at BYU, obtained discovery materials in Seidu’s case. Who he obtained them from is still a mystery, but what is known is that he handed the materials over to BYU. BYU then begins an Honor Code inquiry against Madi Barney based on those materials.
The Deputy County Attorney, Craig Johnson, filed charges of witness retaliation against Randolph and Seidu. His superior, elected County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman, dropped the charge against Randolph based on information received by him from Utah County Sheriff’s Department’s internal affairs investigation. Randolph claims that he did not intend for BYU to open an inquiry against Barney, but to investigate male students how may have committed Honor Code violations with regard to sexual conduct. This story doesn’t make sense because Seidu is not a BYU student, nor is he associated with the university in any way. Seidu, through his attorney Jeremy Jones of the law firm, Nelson Jones, stated that he and Randolph are not friends.
Back to BYU. Brigham Young University begins an Honor Code violation inquiry into Barney once they receive the discovery materials from Randolph. An administrator contacted her and asked her to come in because it appeared that she violated the Church Educational System Honor Code.
A quick sidetrack.
From the Honor Code Statement:
As a matter of personal commitment…students of Brigham Young University…seek to demonstrate in daily living on and off-campus those moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and will:
•Live a chaste and virtuous life
From the section labeled “Conduct”:
[A]ny other conduct or action inconsistent with the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Honor Code is not permitted.
Refer back to the Essential Facts and the police report. There is an uncontested fact that consensual sexual contact did occur between Madi Barney and Nasiru Seidu, that it occured while she was a student at BYU, and that it occured in off-campus housing. It kind of does look like she violated the Honor Code.
It appears that she knows she violated the Honor Code as well because Madi Barney started a petition (yay, a petition signed by people on the internet! How many of those supporters are 1)Students/Alumni of BYU 2)Faculty/Administrators of BYU 3) Residents of Utah County 4) Members of LDS Church). From the petition that she started:
I was raped, and I waited four days to report because I was so terrified about my standing at BYU. Brigham Young University has a strict honor code that prohibits actions such as premarital sex, alcohol or drug use, and even being in the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex. I am a survivor of rape, and now BYU has put my academic future on hold due to their allegations that I broke the Honor Code in the circumstances of my assault. I want victims of sexual violence at BYU to have an immunity clause from the Honor Code so that they don’t feel afraid to report.
Okay, I kept a muzzle on editorializing until now. First, was Madi Barney raped? Maybe. I can see it going either way. Supposedly, Seidu “admitted” over the phone in a monitored calls between Seidu, Barney, and the police, to raping her. If they have the recording, it will probably be admissible against him because Utah is a one-party consent state to recording. If the officers were listening in, they could testify to it as a statement against interests (yay hearsay exceptions). If this recording exists, stick a fork in him, he’s done. If she gets on the stand, turns on the waterworks and boo-hoos about how this big black guy violated her sacred womanhood, the jury will probably eat it up because juries usually do.
He says it was consensual and it appears it was, at least at first. This could just as easily be a buyer’s remorse false accusation. If there is a rape kit, it could hurt him or help him, depending on if any physical trauma happened (bruises, tears, etc.). If he can marshal witnesses who will testify that she was all over him, or that she picked him up, or that she initiated the sexual contact, it helps him.
But, there are plenty of smartypants lawyers to work all of that out.
With respect to the honor code violation. It doesn’t appear that Barney has cooperated with the investigation, hence the hold on registration.
The HCO will normally investigate a reported Honor Code violation if there is sufficient, reasonable, and credible information that an Honor Code violation has occurred. After a violation report is received, the HCO will:
(i) analyze the violation report and relevant evidence,
(ii) conduct an investigation and interview the student and any witnesses or other persons having information about the student and/or the allegations as the HCO deems appropriate,
(iii) notify the student in writing of the alleged violation(s) of the Honor Code if it appears that an Honor Code violation has occurred,
(iv) encourage the student to respond, preferably in writing, to the allegations and relevant evidence,
(v) assess the credibility of the witnesses and strength of the evidence, and
(vi) prepare a decision and recommended course of action.
I haven’t seen an information yet that indicates that she (ii) was interviewed by the HCO, or (iv)has responded to the allegations against her.
In cases involving sexual violence or harassment, the university will conduct its own investigation regardless of the pendency or timing of other civil, criminal, or ecclesiastical proceedings. In all cases, the university retains the right to conduct its own independent investigation and to reach a determination which may or may not be consistent with the outcome of civil, criminal, or ecclesiastical proceedings.
The university may take action on an interim basis pending completion of its investigation when in its discretion such action is reasonably justified. For example, in certain circumstances the university may place an immediate hold on the student’s registration and/or graduation pending further investigation and/or resolution.…The university may discontinue or amend such interim action at any time upon resolution of the issues and/or the subsequent findings of the university’s investigation. If the student disagrees with the interim action, he/she may request an expedited review by the Dean of Students’ Office consistent with the principles and procedure outlined in the Expedited Administrative Review below.
Expedited Administrative Review
If a student disagrees with an interim action taken by the university…an expedited Review may be requested under the following guidelines:
(1) when notified of the interim action or the Decision, the student promptly responds with a request for an expedited process to the Dean of Students’ Office;
(2) the Review application form is completed and delivered without delay to the Dean of Students’ Office;
(3) there is no new or additional information to be introduced; and
(4) the student agrees to participate in the Review when scheduled.
If the conditions for an expedited Review are met, the Dean of Students’ Office will attempt in good faith to schedule the Review within three to five business days of receipt of the Administrative Review Application.
By requesting an expedited Review the student should be aware that the Review process is accelerated. His or her preparation time will be much more limited and the scheduling of the Review will be accomplished as soon as is practicable. The student cannot publicly perform or play during the expedited Review process. The expedited Review process is not generally recommended but is available to a student as an option in unusual circumstances where the student believes it to be in his/ her best interests to complete the Review process as soon as is practicable.
Starting an online petition and waving signs on campus doesn’t look like it falls under any part of the Expedited Administrative Review process.
Barney is not arguing that Honor Code is unreasonable, or that it is unjust, or that she did not agree to it by attending BYU, or that she was confused by it. Refer to the facts. She brought the man back to her residence, and had sex with him. Full stop. That’s all the BYU Honor Code requires for a violation. She just wants a free pass for violating it because, in the course of violating it, something went wrong for her. The Honor Code was violated BEFORE the crime happened. Not during and not after.
The law doesn’t make exceptions for burglars who fall out of windows and break their legs, or for drug dealers who get shot in the course of selling drugs. If you’re going to break the rules, break them and ask for mercy when you get caught. Don’t break them and then say, “I should be exempt because I got a bad outcome as a result of breaking the rules.”