Florida Atlantic University Charges Student Editor with ‘Refusing to Leave Crime Scene’

Administrators at Florida Atlantic University have charged the editor-in-chief of the school’s student newspaper with campus conduct code violations for allegedly “refusing a police order to leave a crime scene.”

Late last month, Dylan Bouscher, top editor at The University Press, approached the spot of a student suicide in the paper’s golf cart. A female UP reporter was riding with him. Bouscher interacted with several members of university security, asking questions and snapping photos.

Was he in violation of university policies or state law? Interpretations differ. As Bouscher tells the Student Press Law Center, “I don’t believe I was near a crime scene or on a crime scene.”

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Meanwhile, in their own case reports, FAU police officers write that the crime scene was visibly marked with cones and vehicles topped with active emergency lights. A portion of one officer’s take:

“It appeared that the golf cart’s occupants disregarded the clearly established police road blocks, by navigating between or around them in order to gain access to the scene. I observed Bouscher exit the golf cart carrying a camera, while walking closer to the scene; he was then halted by [two FAU officers] who were in the vicinity. … Bouscher walked back toward the golf cart, but turned around and pointed his camera in the direction of [the suicide victim’s] body, appearing to be attempting to take photographs of the same. … [When Bouscher returned moments later] I halted the golf cart and advised Bouscher and the [reporter with him] that they were within the boundaries of the crime scene, and lawfully ordered them to leave immediately. Bouscher disregarded my lawful order by exiting the golf cart and attempted to approach closer on foot. … Rather than complying with my lawful orders to depart the scene, Bouscher kept asking ‘Are you all going to put out an FAU Emergency Alert?’ Finally, after I advised Bouscher that if he continued to fail to comply with my lawful orders to leave the scene, he faced the possibility of being subjected to further police action, Bouscher returned to the golf cart and departed the scene.”

Several weeks later, Bouscher received an out-of-the-blue letter from the university notifying him he had been charged with four violations of the student conduct code including “noncompliance with written, oral requests or orders of authorized university officials or law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties.”

According to the SPLC, “Bouscher says he was on public ground and doesn’t believe he did anything wrong, but on Tuesday he accepted two charges in order to have another two dismissed. He said he compromised because he was concerned he might face criminal repercussions if he did not and also because he wanted to protect his newspaper from future disruption from the university.”

Stemming from the accepted charges, he faces a yearlong probation, 24 hours of community service and a mandatory “ethics in decision-making” course he must apparently shell out $100 to take.

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4Interestingly, the letter outlining the charges is dated a day before publication of a special UP issue that “spotlights the FAU Police Department’s lack of transparency in following campus security laws.” Bouscher oversaw the issue, penning at least four pieces featured within it, including the cover story. He even ironically posed for a faux mugshot to illustrate the issue’s introduction.

Coincidence?

In a tweet posted yesterday on the paper’s official account, UP editors appear to hint that it is not.

Related

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