Physical Confrontation Between Students to Result in School and Legal Investigation
A physical confrontation between two UC Irvine students resulted in both a school investigation and a legal investigation that led to charges filed against one of the students by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
First-year undecided/undeclared major Alex Bolt, a member of the Alpha Phi sorority, was allegedly struck multiple times by third-year business economics major Chris Gabbard, a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, in the back of a bus on the way back from a Kappa Sigma Pledge/Active social event on Thursday, Jan. 27. The details are highly disputed by eye-witnesses on both sides. For example, Gabbard’s account alleges that Bolt was the first to strike, while Bolt’s account only describes Gabbard as the aggressor.
The self-reported physical injuries suffered by Bolt, which she claims were documented by the UCI Police Department, included a bruised cheekbone directly under her right eye, two bumps on her head behind her right ear, a bruise on her thigh and a swollen ankle resulting from what seemed to be a kick in the shin.
Case records indicate that Gabbard was formally charged with battery at an arraignment hearing on Tuesday, May 15 and entered a plea of not guilty. A pre-trial hearing took place this past Friday, June 1 and a request for a continuance was filed and approved for Sept. 7, at which time the charges against Gabbard will be dropped upon the completion of five days of community service and provided that no new legal violations surface.
In addition, Executive Vice President of the Interfraternity Council and Executive Vice President of the Associated Students of UCI Kyle Olney, who personally investigated the matter soon after the incident, said that unofficial action was taken to ensure that Kappa Sigma disciplined Gabbard for the incident.
The IFC is a self-governing body for the fraternities at UCI and its standing bylaws have kept it from interfering. ‘[IFC] could not have taken action in this situation even if we had wanted to because the Interfraternity Council cannot take action against a chapter as a whole for the actions of a single member,’ Olney said. ‘But pressure was put on [Kappa Sigma] to deal with the problem internally. … To my knowledge, disciplinary action was taken.’
Gabbard wanted to clarify that his fraternity should not be held responsible for his action. ‘[The incident] was between me and [Bolt]. It didn’t involve our organizations.’
Because of the ongoing investigations, school officials were not able to discuss the details of the case. The judicial process pursued by the school is under the supervision of Acting Director of Student Judicial Affairs Edgar Dormitorio, who explained that the process includes an evaluation by the judicial affairs review board that could result in disciplinary action if deemed necessary. An informal avenue includes Dormitorio meeting with the student one-on-one and determining if sanctions need to be put in place based on what was discussed.
According to Gabbard, he was put on social probation and required to write an essay for DOS, as well as participate in CARE, among other things.
Bolt stated concerns about the difficulties that victims face to ensure that action is taken and appropriate counseling and support services are offered.
‘The school investigation has been open from the end of January until now, and I haven’t heard anything about it,’ said Bolt. ‘The process is painfully slow. After four months, you get burned out.’
On Friday, May 18, Bolt met with Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Manuel Gomez and discussed how to make it easier for assault victims to seek help and be referred to on-campus resources, such as Campus Assault Resources and Education or Student Judicial Affairs under the Office of the Dean of Students.
‘[Gomez] promised he would consider my concerns and was very nice and responsive,’ said Bolt.