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UCLA elections board sanctions 2 candidates amid sexual assault allegations

Kerckhoff Hall, where the Undergraduate Students Association Council offices are housed, is pictured. Two candidates for USAC president were sanctioned by the Undergraduate Students Association Elections Board following an investigation into messages regarding sexual assault allegations made in a GroupMe chat. (Anika Chakrabarti/Photo editor)

By Alexandra Kaiser

May 11, 2023 7:26 p.m.

This post was updated May 11 at 11:51 p.m.

The Undergraduate Students Association Elections Board sanctioned two candidates and a student organization following allegations of sexual assault against Undergraduate Students Association Council incumbent president and candidate for reelection Carl King Jr.

Stephany Cartney, a second-year biology student, sent messages May 1 in a group chat for Black UCLA students on GroupMe, alleging that King sexually assaulted her in the USAC president’s office in January. She alleged he attempted to pay her to remain silent and said she reported the incident to the Title IX Office.King disputed Cartney’s allegations in the group chat following her message.

“I never payed for anyones silence because I’ve done nothing wrong with anyone,” King said in the GroupMe. “I’m sure she has been manipulated to post this by a certain individual running against me for president.”

King declined requests for comment, citing no-contact orders he both requested and received, which prevented communication between the two parties.

Cartney did not respond to requests for comment.

Naomi Hammonds, the current USAC general representative 3 and another candidate for president, responded in the group chat to King’s suggestion of manipulation. She said she would not manipulate someone to post an accusation.

“When he said that, I immediately thought he was hinting at me because … we were in the Black Bruin GroupMe,” she said in an interview. “I’m the only other Black-identifying candidate that I know of that is running for president.”

Cartney said in the group chat Hammonds was not involved in her decision to discuss her experiences publicly.

King also made a post on Instagram the following day denying the allegations and claiming he believes another candidate was involved.

In response, the elections board investigated the post and sanctioned King because the information in the post was unverifiable, it said in a public notice of findings on Sunday, adding that King and all his official affiliates were prohibited from campaigning until the end of May 8.

“While King has the right to defend himself, the manner in which he made the post with no regard for the elections board’s rules all while making allegations which the board views as being unsubstantiated was irresponsible and damaging to the elections process,” the elections board said in its findings.

Bruin Democrats, a political student organization on campus, also posted about the allegations on its Instagram page, expressing support for Cartney. The elections board investigated the post and an alleged violation, stating that Hammonds was involved in the production of the post.

In a separate public notice Sunday, the elections board found no evidence of a prior relationship between Bruin Democrats and Hammonds and no evidence of collusion between Hammonds and Cartney. The board sanctioned the post and required Bruin Democrats to remove it because the information was unverified.

Another public notice released May 8, however, found that Hammonds was not entirely forthright about previous contact with Cartney during the board’s previous investigation. The May 8 public notice also found that Cartney had previously campaigned for Hammonds’ election in the GroupMe chat, but still did not find any evidence of collusion between Hammonds and Cartney. The board sanctioned Hammonds by prohibiting her from campaigning until 2 p.m. on May 8.

Hammonds said she did not believe the board’s finding May 8 was accurate to the situation. The board found a months-old personal interaction between her and Cartney that was unrelated to the election and occurred prior to the beginning of her campaign, Hammonds added.

“I didn’t think it was entirely fair to say that I was falsifying evidence because of something I honestly didn’t even remember because it was months ago before I even thought about running for president,” she said in an interview.

Anna Bulis, chair and spokesperson for the elections board, said in an emailed statement that the board does not believe the allegations or sanctions will affect the outcome of the election.

“If social media chatter is an indication of the student body’s feelings about the election, it seems that this case has had little impact,” she said.

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Alexandra Kaiser | Campus politics editor
Kaiser is the 2022-2023 campus politics editor. She was previously a News reporter and Opinion columnist. She is also a third-year communication and political science student.
Kaiser is the 2022-2023 campus politics editor. She was previously a News reporter and Opinion columnist. She is also a third-year communication and political science student.
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