After holding a closed trial on Monday night, the AU Student Government’s Judicial Board released its official opinion Wednesday afternoon, finding sophomore presidential candidate Will Mascaro not in violation of all accusations of coercion during the presidential race.
Although Mascaro was found not guilty of these charges, he was found guilty of using SG office space for campaign purposes during one of his meetings with fellow presidential candidate Devontae Torriente on March 3, according to the official opinion.
As a consequence for this violation, Mascaro’s campaign was issued a 24-hour suspension. However, Mascaro explained that because the campaign was prematurely suspended for 22 hours prior to the trial, those hours were credited toward his punishment, resulting in only a two hour suspension from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.
“I wasn’t really expecting this last charge to be tacked on,” Mascaro said. “I frankly didn’t care too much about that because while I pleaded not responsible, I did speak to [Devontae] about [the campaign] in an SG office. But that aside, it’s totally how I expected it to go because from the very beginning, without fail or any sort of doubt in my mind, I knew we were going to be innocent, and on every single charge, we were found innocent.”
During the trial, Mascaro was represented by senior Kevin Michael Levy. Prosecutor and junior Naomi Zeigler represented the complainant Jake Kern with the help of juniors Logan Billman and Alex Friedman as prosecution consultants.
While Zeigler chose to remain neutral regarding the outcome of the trial, she said she represented Kern to the best of her ability and respects the Judicial Board’s thoroughness throughout the hearing.
“As far as the Judicial Board's opinion follows, my personal opinion regarding the case does not matter,” Zeigler wrote in an email. “I believe, due to the public status of all of the documents surrounding this case, that all students at AU who are concerned with these allegations have access to the documents which will allow them to make an informed decision themselves. The Judicial Board did their job and did it with seriousness and thoroughness.”
Zeigler also said that the added publicity on the allegations against Mascaro added another level of intensity to the case.
“I believe this case was particularly contentious,” Zeigler said in an email. “The media coverage offered a new dynamic to the case, in that many eyes were on the Judicial Board. This case was an alleged ethical violation, the most serious of all possible violations, therefore coming with more serious consequences. Had the Judicial Board been hasty in delivering and writing their opinion, there is a possibility the case may not have been a comprehensively deliberated as possible.”
Clarification: The Judicial Board of the Undergraduate Senate uses the term "not in violation" rather than "innocent" when announcing its findings.