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Rising Dem Star Was Kicked Out of Dartmouth Dems Over Sexual Abuse Allegations

Jack Cocchiarella is a rising star in Democratic politics, earning thousands as a “Gen Z”  digital strategist for the likes of Florida gubernatorial candidate Rep. Charlie Crist and Marcus Flowers, running against Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene in Georgia.

Cocchiarella also has a secret. He was kicked out of the Dartmouth College Democrats last year after serious accusations of abusive behavior toward women began circulating. 

 

Jack Cocchiarella (far right) meets President Joe Biden.

Cocchiarella has built a mini-media empire with podcasts and high-traffic social media accounts. He is a Twitter Super Follow with more than 250,000 followers, another 15,000 on Instagram, and almost 20,000 on TikTok.  Cocchiarella uses his platform to push Democratic talking points and praise politicians like President Joe Biden and Texas’s Beto O’Roarke.

Cocchiarella went viral last year when he filmed himself confronting Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), during the congressman’s appearance at Dartmouth College.

He has since gone viral in a less-flattering way. The Washington Free Beacon reports on a string of December 2021 Reddit posts that accused Cocchiarella of using “his Twitter notoriety and left-wing credentials to position himself as an ally. Then, once people let their guards down, he rapes them.”

NHJournal verified the college disciplined him for at least one instance of allegedly abusive behavior. NHJournal spoke to an alleged victim who provided documents about the incident, including a letter warning Cocchiarella that he could be suspended for violating the school’s Sexual and Gender-based Misconduct Policy.

NH Journal is not reporting the name of the alleged victim to protect her identity. She told the Journal that Cocchiarella groped her on one occasion and attempted to touch her on several other occasions before she reported him to the school’s Title IX office.

She said Cocchiarella was friendly at first, but his behavior turned into stalking over a few weeks. His actions became progressively more inappropriate.  She started to feel unsafe around Cocchiarella and decided to go to the Title IX office. 

“What was scary is he said a lot of really misogynistic things,” she said.

The woman is still shocked by Cocchiarella’s online persona as a feminist ally and progressive fighter when in reality she was scared of him.

“How does he have this platform as a feminist,” she said.

College officials declined to comment for this story. Cocchiarella did not respond to several requests for comment.

Cocchiarella is no longer a student at Dartmouth. He recently confirmed in an Aug. 1 podcast that he had switched Ivy League schools and is now a student at Columbia University.

Late last month, Twitter users started tweeting at Cocchiarella about the allegations of sexual misconduct. Many accusers have been telling their stories online for months in forums for Dartmouth students as Cocchiarella started to gain fame for his liberal activism.

The Dartmouth College Democrats Twitter account published a tweet claiming Cocchiarella was kicked out of the club last year when several allegations became known on campus. The club later deleted that tweet, but a source familiar with the matter confirmed to NH Journal that Cocchiarella had been kicked out of the club because of the allegations. 

The Free Bacon also notes Cocchiarella appeared on a YouTube television show for the Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump political action committee founded by alleged sexual predator John Weaver. Cocchiarella was on the show to plug his own political podcast, Zoomed In.

Dartmouth College has a dark history of sexual misconduct on campus. Three years ago, the school paid a $14 million settlement to women who claimed they were sexually assaulted and harassed by three professors. 

The school’s fraternity culture has also gained notoriety. One fraternity served as a model for the one depicted in the 1978 movie “Animal House.” The fraternities were also the center of recent hazing scandals.

In Light of St. Paul’s Sexual Misconduct Report, Advocacy Groups Turn to Lawmakers for Solutions

After the bombshell report came out last week that found a disturbing number of faculty and staff members at St. Paul’s School committing sexual misconduct with students, advocacy groups are looking for political solutions to ensure that those incidents don’t happen again and justice is given to the victims.

St. Paul’s announced the findings Monday and admitted there were times when administrators at the elite prep school in Concord failed to adequately protect students on campus over a 40-year period from 1948 to 1988. The independent investigation by the Casner & Edwards law firm began after allegations surfaced against a former faculty member in 2000.

The investigation looked into allegations involving 34 faculty members and staff at St. Paul’s School, referred to as SPS in the report. The investigation determined that 13 school employees, 12 of whom were male, committed sexual misconduct and there were unsubstantiated claims of sexual misconduct by an additional 11 current and former faculty and staff.

“Put simply but starkly, several former faculty and staff sexually abused children in their care in a variety of ways, from clear boundary violations to repeated sexual relationships to rape,” the report found.

Substantiated cases included two chaplains, three teachers who ended up marrying students soon after they graduated St. Paul’s, and a top female administrator whose relationship with a male student in 1980 was well-known on campus.

The investigation found that the school has been willing to overlook alleged sexual misconduct in exchange for a teacher leaving, even giving one accused teacher letters of recommendation for a new job.

In a letter to the St. Paul’s community about the investigation, school officials said they wanted to make it public to be fully transparent and to learn from the school’s past mistakes so they can do better in the future.

“It is especially difficult when trust, the foundation of community, has been compromised. Our history with regard to sexual abuse and sexual misconduct is a painful one,” wrote Rector Michael Hirschfeld and Board of Trustees President Archibald Cox, Jr. “From the Board of Trustees to those charged with executing the mission on the grounds, the School is committed to confronting this history squarely so that it will remain a source of our continual improvement into the future.”

To make change, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (NHCADSV) believes lawmakers should reform the statute of limitations in sexual assault cases. Under current state law, child victims of sexual abuse only have until their 30th birthday to file a lawsuit and until their 40th birthday to press criminal charges.

“It is a huge injustice to victims and it doesn’t acknowledge the true trauma of sexual assault,” said Jessica Eskeland, public policy specialist at the NHCADSV. “Sexual assault is not like any other crime. It can cause trauma and there is so much shame since the abuse usually happens at the hands of someone who they trust and respect. For many, they don’t feel ready to come forward until their 40s, 50s, or even 60s.”

There are two bills currently in the Legislature that would eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual assaults for children under 18 years old. Senate Bill 98 and Senate Bill 164 are both tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee until the next legislative session in 2018.

“We’ll be working with lawmakers next year to tighten this up and have victims access justice whenever they’re ready,” Eskeland told NH Journal. “We want to make sure everyone is on a level playing field regardless of where they experienced violence.”

The NHCADSV would also like to fix what they see as a glaring loophole in the New Hampshire’s Safe Schools Act. Under the act, schools are not legally required to report misdemeanor sexual assault to police, leaving the decision to report up to the discretion of school officials. Misdemeanor sexual assault would are cases involving sexual contact between minors and other minors or young adults. The N.H. Safe Schools Act only refers to felony-level sex crimes and exempts simple assaults if the school has a policy for notifying parents.

Yet, the act directly conflicts with the state’s Child Protection Act, mandating schools report suspected instances of child abuse and neglect. Schools often have agreements, known as memorandums of understanding, with police agencies. St. Paul’s and the Concord Police Department signed an agreement in September 2012 and it remains in currently remains in effect. The current agreement is written in compliance with the N.H. Safe Schools Act and states that misdemeanor assaults should be handled on a case-by-case basis. There is nothing in the agreement, though, mentioning misdemeanor sexual assault.

 

Eskeland said one of the most important ways a school can help is to educate its staff, faulty, and students on sexual assault prevention. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center and a professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, agreed in a Sunday op-ed in the Concord Monitor outlining steps schools should take to reduce their vulnerability.

He said schools need to send a clear message “that the era of ‘managing’ these offenses is over.” Schools need rules, training, and reminders about the high-risk situations in schools, they need to talk openly to students and faculty about the problem and about the responsibility of bystanders, and teachers need self-management tools.

Yet, he cautioned about trying to solve all the sexual misconduct issues in schools through legislation. He said research has found that the most effective solutions are through education and not through increasing sentences or penalties, which lawmakers might try to do.

“The schools are being asked to do so much and have various mandates that it is hard without additional resources and additional incentives to step up to the plate,” he told NH Journal. “I’m not sure…[it’s] best handled by legislation. They [lawmakers] might well end up creating more problems than solutions.”

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