Former Utah State student accuses faculty member of sexual assault

Local News

LOGAN, Utah (News4Utah) – A former student at Utah State University filed a lawsuit claiming a current faculty member sexually assaulted her.

These allegations stem from when the victim, Jaime Caliendo, was just 17 years old.
The lawsuit claims she was the victim of sexual battery and assault by Dennis Hirst, who worked for USU and is still a faculty member.

“On one occasion, he groped and fondled Jaime without her consent,” her attorney Shaun Peck told News4Utah by phone on Thursday.

At the time, Hirst was 23 and Caliendo was 17.

“During the course of sleeping, she woke to find that Dennis was sexually assaulting her on the floor of his apartment,” said Peck.

That traumatic event has troubled her ever since, according to the civil suit filed this week.

Caliendo even filed a police report back in 1994, but Hirst reportedly wouldn’t talk to police, Peck says.

And Hirst was never charged.

“Dennis Hirst has continued to teach up here at Utah State,” said Peck.

According to the biography page on USU’s website, Hirst is currently director of graduate studies for the music department.

Back in April, we told you about an investigation the university conducted about similar accusations — the so-called Sullivan Report.

“We’ve been dealing with, as an institution, issues of sexual violence on campus,” said Tim Vitale, a university spokesperson.

He says that report involved a written reprimand for Hirst.

“But that was specifically about the conclusions reached in the Sullivan Report,” said Vitale.

“At the same time, other information came to light there that we understood needed further exploration. So we hired an independent investigator to look into that aspect of things,” he added.

Caliendo is seeking $300,000 in damages.

News4Utah left a voicemail with Hirst and emailed him; neither were returned on Thursday.

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