Court grants three-year PFA order against student

Charges pending in investigation of two alleged sexual assaults

Two first-year female students of Allegheny College requested and were granted protection from abuse orders against a first-year male student, accusing him of sexual assault.

The PFA orders, which prevent the accused from contacting the women who requested them, were issued by the Court of Common Pleas on Oct. 17 and Oct. 19, according to Crawford County court records. One of the orders was extended to three years by the court on Friday, Nov. 3. The court will make a ruling on extending the second PFA at a later date.

No criminal charges have been filed against the accused, Trey Serbin, ’21.

The two incidents are being investigated by Meadville police, but Chief Michael Tautin said the city’s police department does not comment on ongoing investigations.

The incidents occurred about a month apart — the first incident allegedly taking place on Sept. 1 in Schultz Hall, the second on Oct. 5 in Baldwin Hall.

Hearings to decide if the PFA orders should be extended were originally held on Oct. 26 but were rescheduled. A PFA is granted to an individual by county court in order to protect an individual from physical or sexual abuse.

President Judge Anthony Vardaro granted defense attorney Ed Hatheway’s request to continue the hearings on Nov. 3 to give Hatheway more time to collect evidence to assist Serbin’s defense.

Hatheway declined to comment on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Hearings on extending both PFAs took place on Friday, Nov. 3. During the hearing that was completed, a witness testified that Serbin met the woman requesting the PFA at a party held at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house on Sept. 1. Multiple witnesses testified that those involved had been drinking before arriving at the fraternity house and continued drinking upon their arrival.

After leaving the party, the woman, Serbin and three others went to Schultz, where the incident allegedly occurred.

In order to protect the identity of the women who were granted the PFA orders, and those who testified during the hearings, The Campus has decided not to disclose their names.

Once at Schultz, the woman testified that she, Serbin and two others entered a dorm room where Serbin began kissing her and held her down as he tried to undress her.

When Serbin attempted sexual intercourse, she pushed him off of her and told him to get out of the room, according to the woman’s testimony.

“I didn’t want to be raped,” the woman said after being asked why she pushed Serbin.

A witness to the assault testified that she heard the woman say no twice and saw her push Serbin off of the bed. Details included in the witness’s testimony were consistent  with information provided in the survivor’s testimony.

During his testimony, Serbin said the woman did not say no.

“If she said no, I would have recalled it,” Serbin said.

Serbin said he does not recall the events leading up to their arrival at Schultz, but thought he and the woman were going to “couple up” upon entering the dorm room. Serbin said her body language and the conversations they had with each other throughout the night led him to believe he and the woman were going to have sexual intercourse.

Serbin testified that he had pushed the woman off of him and not the other way around.

“I pushed her away to go to the bathroom,” Serbin said.

Serbin also said the woman performed oral sex on him before he left the room. In testimonies provided by five first-year students, only Serbin included this information.

During his testimony, Serbin said he was written up for intoxication by the Schultz Resident Advisers after being caught intoxicated in the bathroom.

Assistant Dean of Students Joe Hall would not comment on the case.

During the hearing, Serbin was asked what consent meant to him. Serbin responded by saying consent is when two parties agree.

Janes read Allegheny’s policy on consent after Serbin answered.

In Allegheny College’s 2016-2017 Policy Against Discriminatory and Sexual Harassment Including: Sexual Assault and Other Forms of Sexual Violence, it says “Consent cannot be obtained from someone who is asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs or some other condition. Consent cannot be obtained by threat, coercion or force.”

In mid-October, the woman went to Allegheny’s Title IX office and received a no-contact order. The woman said she wanted the PFA because she fears retaliation from Serbin. The no-contact order only applies while on Allegheny’s campus. Copies of the PFA order were given to the local police department where the woman resides when not at school because Serbin lives about 15 minutes away from the woman’s permanent residence in Allegheny County.

The woman waited about a month to report the incident due to a lack of action taken by authorities when she reported a previous sexual assault case in her hometown.

“I thought it would be a waste of time and emotion,” the woman testified.

She alerted Title IX Director Gilly Ford, the Office of Public Safety and the Meadville police after hearing another woman had reported Serbin for sexual assault, according to her testimony.

Following testimony from the woman, Serbin and four witnesses Vardaro granted a three-year PFA that bans Serbin from having contact with the woman and from entering the residence hall sections of Brooks Hall. A PFA is granted based on a preponderance of evidence, meaning that a judge makes a ruling based on one side having more convincing evidence rather than the amount of evidence.

Serbin is allowed access to Brooks Dining Hall.

The second alleged sexual assault occurred on Oct. 5 in a Baldwin Hall dorm room.

The hearing for the Oct. 5 incident took place before Judge Mark Stevens on Nov. 3, recessed at 12:20 p.m. and will continue at a later date.

Both parties lived in Baldwin at the time of the alleged assault. Serbin has since been moved to Ravine-Narvik Hall, according to court records.

The woman alleging the second assault testified that she went downstairs to let Serbin into Baldwin because he did not have his student ID card to let himself into the building. After letting him in, the woman and Serbin went to her room.

During her testimony, the woman said Serbin made unwanted sexual advances toward her while they were in her room. She said he sexually assaulted her after she told him she did not feel well. The woman also said she consumed alcohol at a party on the night of the alleged assault.

The woman met with Allegheny’s Title IX Coordinator Gilly Ford after the incident, according to her testimony.

Title IX Coordinator Gilly Ford did not respond to two messages  left by The Campus, asking for comment.

“I did have faith in the school until they told me we had to be treated as equals,” the woman said during the hearing.

Prior to the recess, Hatheway said he plans to call two more witnesses, one of the witnesses being Serbin.

“What these young women have experienced should not happen to anyone,” said Kyle Janes, the attorney representing the women. “I hope privacy for them and their families will be given to them during this time.”

Dean of Students Kimberly Scott was away at a conference and could not be reached for comment.

Executive Vice President Eileen Petula issued a statement but declined to comment further.

“The college is unable to give any statement,” Petula said.