Corey Mock, the nationally ranked University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestler who was expelled for sexual misconduct in December, will return to campus this week despite growing anger among some students about his case.
"I feel disgusted. There is no other word for it," said Sania Khan, the roommate of the female student who says Mock raped her in March. "I feel like we had justice and now that has been taken away."
And just as news of Mock's return hit campus, administrators announced changes to the campus' sexual misconduct policy, which was altered in 2012 to require verbal consent for sexual contact. The policy, called "Yes means yes" has been widely adopted on campuses across the country and represents a pendulum swing in how universities handle rape accusations. The policy is also controversial, since some say a requirement of verbal consent puts men at risk.
The interim policy put into effect Jan. 5 more strictly codifies the "Yes means yes" standard of consent, university spokesman Chuck Cantrell said, and students were asked for their input on Tuesday. But students brought up Mock's case at the meeting. Students openly complained about the way the university handled the case and voiced frustration about his return to campus.
After Mock was expelled he appealed his case to Davidson County Chancery Court. On Friday, Chancellor Carol McCoy issued a temporary injunction allowing Mock, 24, to take spring-semester classes until a final ruling is issued on his expulsion appeal, the university confirmed Tuesday.
Mock and his attorneys argued that asking him to sit out his last semester as a senior pending McCoy's decision would cause "irreparable harm."
McCoy granted only part of Mock's motion. She did not allow him to return to the wrestling team, or to regain the athletic scholarship he had last spring.
Attorneys for Mock and UTC have until Feb. 8 to file briefs in the case, and it will likely be months before McCoy reaches a decision.
Molly Morris says Mock raped her in March. Her name had been withheld from previous stories in accordance with Times Free Press policy regarding rape cases, but on Tuesday she granted permission to print her name.
Morris is a transfer student from New Mexico but is no longer in Chattanooga. Still, she told the Times Free Press she fears that Mock's return to campus will put other female students at risk.
"He does have the potential to target someone else," she said.
Mock vehemently denied raping Morris. He says the two met on a dating app called Tinder and had consensual sex after a party.
Morris says she could not have given consent because she was unconscious and only remembers waking with Mock on top of her. She believed she was drugged.
When the situation was reported to the UTC administration, Mock was removed from a class he took with Morris and was suspended from the wrestling team. But in June, Mock was found "not responsible," the university's version of "not guilty."
That decision was reversed three weeks later after Morris and university administrators petitioned Joanie Sompayrac, the judicial officer who presided over the hearing, to reconsider. She reversed her decision without considering any new evidence.
“Regardless of what happens with the appeal, it's not over."”
At issue was whether Mock had received verbal consent to have sex with Morris.
Mock appealed Sompayrac's decision, which was upheld by UTC Chancellor Steven Angle. In his December ruling, Angle cited the growing national scrutiny of the way schools handle sexual assault cases.
Mock was expelled.
He then filed the Chancery Court appeal.
Meanwhile, Morris had filed a Title IX complaint alleging that UTC improperly handled her case, which triggered an investigation by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.
Mock's father, C.D. Mock, is head coach of the wrestling program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where Corey Mock previously wrestled. The elder Mock said he is happy his son can return to campus but said the university treated his son unfairly in an effort to avoid public criticism. He's been vocal about his opinions on a blog.
In a post defending his son, he offers his theory on what really happened last March.
"So why is she pushing this?" one post reads, referring to the victim. "We can only guess, but I am guessing she comes from a very religious family -- probably Catholic."
The blog also speaks out against the "Yes means yes" standard, which he called unreasonable.
"But, to suggest that a girl who has had two drinks is incapable of saying "no" is ludicrous. Let's poll college girls to find the truth on this; not old, single hags who hate men and have nothing to do but lobby politicians."
C.D. Mock said he is concerned that the climate at UTC will make things difficult for his son.
"Regardless of what happens with the appeal, it's not over," C.D. Mock said. "We want to clear his name."
Contact staff writer Claire Wiseman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow her on Twitter @clairelwiseman.
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