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Friday, June 09, 2023

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a series investigating sexual violence on campus.

After Ian Milaski, a 21-year-old UF economics senior, was first released from jail the public labeled him as the next Brock Turner — a “high-achieving” student accused of sexually-natured violence fueled by alcohol.

Reports of other sexual assault and battery cases started to surface: one occuring in Jennings Hall, another at Rawlings Hall and one involving a former UF football player. The conversations about sexual violence and protective measures against rape, such as blue lights missing on Fraternity Row, have been front and center among UF students this Fall semester.

Since 2015, 83 individual identification numbers involving sexual battery are listed on UPD incident logs under university police and Campus Security Authority jurisdiction. 

Of those, three cases led to arrests while 67 are pending, according to the incident logs. CSA cases are listed as pending until the victim decides to move forward with the case, said Cpt. Kristy Sasser, of UPD, wrote in an email. If a victim doesn’t move forward, it remains pending indefinitely.

Ten of the identification numbers ended in complaint withdrawals, one referred to another agency, one exceeded the statute of limitations and one ended up being unfounded.

Sexual battery, commonly known as rape, means “oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object,” Florida Statute reads. 

Sexual battery and assault are coming to light now in public discourse, but the issues are not new, said Michelle Jacobs, a UF law professor.

“Men drinking alcohol and behaving inappropriately is seen as two different lenses in society,” Jacobs said. “Women see it as assaultive and men see it as ‘boys being boys’ — even in their 20s and 30s.”

This week, Milaski was arrested after surrendering to a warrant and was released for a second time.

Milaski was in the Alachua County Jail after the State Attorney’s office sent a warrant for his arrest, which added new charges such as attempted sexual battery, kidnapping and burglary to Milaski’s original case, according to court records. 

His lawyer, Ron Kozlowski, told The Alligator he voluntarily turned himself in. 

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Kozlowski declined to comment on  neither the case nor on Milaski’s behalf.

Milaski was first arrested Aug. 28 on charges of battery and false imprisonment after a female student accused him of repeatedly asking her to have sex, grabbing her and trying to put his finger in her vagina, according to a UPD arrest report.

After his first arrest, Kozlowski wrote Milaski was a “high-achieving” student who couldn’t afford to pay his $125,000 bond. Judge Mark Moseley, who is no longer on the case, agreed and released Milaski without having to pay the bond. 

After Milaski’s second arrest, his lawyer wrote another motion to reduce the bond, saying his client can’t afford to pay $200,000 as an undergraduate student at UF, according to court records. But Milaski managed to be released later that day for the same amount.

Kozlowski wrote his client is an “outstanding student” who isn’t a flight risk, according to court records. He further wrote Milaski is eager to clear his name in court because it’s “likely the only way to attend law school; No law school will ever accept a fugitive.”

He wrote the case “unfortunately received national attention,” which could threaten the integrity of the legal process, according to court records.

Rape, particularly in a college setting, can be difficult to report as a victim due to varying cultural reasons, Jacobs said. 

During college, people are shaping their identities and independence. Being linked to such an event can cause fear of social isolation — particularly if a perpetrator is in a position of power or well liked on campus, Jacobs said. It’s common the perpetrator is someone the victim is familiar with — and if anything — trusts.

“It’s not the stranger in the grass waiting for you,” Jacobs said. “It’s the person picking you up to save you from the stranger in the grass that can be the most dangerous.” 

Students who chose not to file police charges can report sexual assault to the university through Title IX, which prohibits “the discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding.”

Milaski is still a UF student as of Wednesday evening, said UF spokesperson Steve Orlando. 

“Many high achievers are still dangerous to the community,” Jacobs said.

Milaski admitted to grabbing the female student by the wrist and asking to sleep with her, according to an arrest report. He was then charged with battery and false imprisonment at the time. 

Jacobs said it’s not uncommon for the state attorney’s office to add or drop charges as new evidence emerges during the discovery period of a case.

Bond is evaluated by whether or not a defendant is a flight risk or danger to society if released from jail, she said. In her opinion, being a great student doesn’t indicate anything about either concern. 

When those accused begin their legal defense, it is not uncommon for their lawyer to use their standing in the community and their academics, Jacobs said. Kozlowski wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t motion to reduce Milaski’s bond. 

On the first arrest, Milaski’s lawyer wrote that remaining in jail prevented his client from finishing his school assignments on time and assisting his parents for Hurricane Dorian preparations in South Florida. He also added Milaski’s work as a teacher’s assistant managing about 40 other assistants, an honor society member and an overall good student.

"What the lawyer did is what lawyers do, I don’t fault the lawyer for that,” Jacobs said. “I do think the judge used an inappropriate standard.”

It’s an instance catching people’s attention but isn’t the first of its kind, Jacobs said. A white male of presentable demeanor who is able to afford a decent lawyer, is in turn coddled by a sympathetic judge. A common scenario that continues to plague victims’ rights in the legal system.

In the second motion, Milaski’s lawyer wrote his client wants “nothing to do” with the victim from here on out.

The female student in Milaski’s case did not respond to The Alligator further than confirming she was a UF sophomore. A Facebook account under the same name wrote a post describing the the instance: a resident assistant grabbing her and trying to have sex with her.

“I do not want this incident to be swept under the rug! I will continue to fight this and I will continue to fight him until the very end,” the post said.

This story has been updated to include further information on CSA sent by University Police after publication of the article.

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