Purdue shutters Camp DASH; internal review shows director delayed reporting sexual harassment allegations

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue has pulled the plug for good on a summer research camp after allegations of sexual assault, voyeurism and child pornography.

A new report on Camp DASH showed the director was aware of the allegations for a month before reporting them to police. The camp was part of a summer diet study for children ages 11 to 15 with high blood pressure.

The report showed police responded to several calls involving campers fighting and threatening counselors with weapons.

The Purdue Biomedical Institutional Review Board (IRB) terminated the study after an internal review. The camp had been closed in July after the allegations surfaced, just short of two weeks into its second scheduled 25-day session.

The camp was supposed to run two sessions: June 10 to July 5 and July 7 to Aug. 5.

Two campers were arrested in the first week of the study and dismissed. After meeting with administrators, Purdue Police Chief John Cox recommended the camp for closure. Administrators considered suspending the camp or terminating it but ultimately decided to move forward after mandating additional staff training.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels wrote a lengthy email about the situation:

The institutional assessment, as well as the IRB’s findings and determinations, clearly show that, in this case, those who oversaw this particular study did not meet the high standards that are the hallmark of Purdue’s otherwise excellent track record in hosting youth programming on campus.

Administrators who made the determination to continue the study were unaware of sexual harassment allegations involving a participant, even though the director, Dr. Connie Weaver, knew about them.

According to the report on Camp DASH, a counselor told Weaver on June 20 about the allegations and the participant was dismissed. That information, however, wasn’t reported to the IRB until July 5 and Purdue police didn’t learn about it until July 20.

The board had informed Weaver that it would terminate the study if another incident occurred before July 5.

Bad behavior continued during the second session despite the addition of more training and a camp manager.

Weaver issued a statement about Camp DASH:

“I am deeply saddened by the instances that caused Camp DASH to end early. As the principal investigator, I accept responsibility for events that occurred at Camp DASH. The safety and security of research participants always comes first. I have dedicated my career to nutrition science research, and our team’s work has led to better health and wellness for millions of people across the world. We will continue these important efforts to find solutions to the nation’s top health concerns for at-risk, diverse adolescents.”

Data collected during the study will not be used.