College football player faces charges for sexual assault, breaking, entering

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COURTESY PHOTO / WYDAILY.COM

A football player for the College of William and Mary was arrested Feb. 8 on one felony count of breaking and entering and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery, according to John Heilman of the Williamsburg Police Department.

According to the initial investigation, George Eberle ’22 broke into a woman’s home on Matoaka Court, just beyond campus grounds, before sexually assaulting her. Both Eberle and the young woman who reported the assault are students at the College, though the two did not know each other. Police were called to the scene at approximately 2:45 a.m. and they reported no injury or property damage.

The next morning, around 9 a.m., Eberle was located and arrested by Williamsburg Police and transported to the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail. He was released on $10,000 bail Monday, Feb. 10.

“This is a criminal investigative file and any further dissemination of information could harm the prosecution’s case,” Heilman said.

Eberle’s terms of bail and current residence are unclear. Currently Eberle remains on the College’s football roster as the team moves into spring practices.

Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Strategic Communications Peter Clawson explained the College’s position regarding the arrest.

“Certainly, William & Mary takes the charge of any crime seriously,” Clawson said via email.  “The safety of our community and the well-being of its members are among the university’s top priorities. Any student charged with a serious crime may also face campus disciplinary action where sanctions could range from warning to dismissal.”

“Certainly, William & Mary takes the charge of any crime seriously,” Clawson said via email.  “The safety of our community and the well-being of its members are among the university’s top priorities. Any student charged with a serious crime may also face campus disciplinary action where sanctions could range from warning to dismissal.”

Clawson did not make an official statement on whether or not Eberle will practice with the team for the spring semester. Furthermore, he did not outline any additional measures the athletic department plans to take in regard to working with student athletes to educate and prevent sexual misconduct. He did, however, emphasize the current practices of the athletic department provides to incoming freshman athletes.

“Beyond the required programming that the university provides all incoming freshmen on sexual assault prevention and alcohol abuse education, Athletics requires all freshman student-athletes to attend three additional educational sessions that cover Drug and Alcohol awareness, Healthy Relationships and general Student Conduct,” Clawson said.

Clawson said that the athletic department would not comment on specific disciplinary measures. The coaching staff declined to comment independently. 

College spokesperson Suzanne Clavet indicated that the College is cooperating with authorities, but also declined to comment on disciplinary measures due to privacy laws and college policy.

According to the Student Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Grievance/Complaint Procedure within the College, interim measures such as interim suspension can be taken before a student faces an investigation. It is unclear whether the College has chosen to take this measure in regard to Eberle.

The College’s Chief Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator Pamela Mason explained the policies and procedures implemented throughout campus.

“The safety of our community and the well-being of each student are among the university’s top priorities,” Mason said. “We want every member of the campus community to be able to learn or work in an environment in which they can feel and be safe. Our policies and procedures related to student conduct are centered on providing the resources and support any of our students need along with due process and evidenced-based findings for all involved.”

“The safety of our community and the well-being of each student are among the university’s top priorities,” Mason said. “We want every member of the campus community to be able to learn or work in an environment in which they can feel and be safe. Our policies and procedures related to student conduct are centered on providing the resources and support any of our students need along with due process and evidenced-based findings for all involved.”

Student Assembly President Kelsey Vita ‘20 emphasized the importance of ensuring student safety and respecting the wishes of students who have experienced some form of sexual assault or harassment.

“During events that may alarm and traumatize the student body, the Student Assembly’s first priority is always student wellness and safety,” Vita said. “While we can take this as an opportunity to discuss how to combat sexual violence on campus, we must also respect the survivor’s decisions on how they wish to proceed with this case. Sexual violence is always wrong and never the fault of the survivor. We are reminded that we must always listen, uplift, and believe survivors — both during our time at William & Mary and in our daily lives once we leave the university.”

Secretary of College Policy and Student Rights Amanda Yannett ’20 commented on SA’s recent progress on improving the College’s response to issues of sexual violence. More specifically, she highlighted amendments to the College’s Title IX policy to include other forms of abuse beyond physical and sexual as well as the development and expansion of the “Let’s Get Consensual” campaign. Furthermore, SA has helped to create a Title IX FAQ webpage and materials for student organizations dealing with a perpetrator.

“Sexual violence prevention, education and support has been a top concern among W&M students and for this year’s Student Assembly,” Yannett said. “These kinds of stories can be triggering for survivors and the immediate response of SA is focusing on highlighting the support and resources available to our students.”

“Sexual violence prevention, education and support has been a top concern among W&M students and for this year’s Student Assembly,” Yannett said. “These kinds of stories can be triggering for survivors and the immediate response of SA is focusing on highlighting the support and resources available to our students.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence and is a student at the College The Haven offers a safe, confidential, and inclusive space for support and empowerment. The Haven is located in Campus Center Room 166 and can be contacted via email (thehaven@wm.edu) or by phone (757-221-2449). For off-campus support, the Avalon Center provides 24-hour support through its crisis helpline at 757-258-5015. 

This article updates the news brief in the Feb. 11, 2020 issue.