UPDATE: UI professor says he was acting as journalist while recording in bathroom

UPDATE: UI professor says he was acting as journalist while recording in bathroom

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UPDATE, 10 p.m.:

CHAMPAIGN — A University of Illinois professor arrested Monday night for allegedly videotaping a former unofficial Chief Illiniwek portrayer in a bathroom at State Farm Center has been put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

A statement from the UI said that Jay Rosenstein, professor of media and cinema studies, allegedly admitted to videotaping a person in a public restroom and was arrested by UI police for unauthorized videotaping, though he was ultimately not charged in the incident.

"If the allegations against Prof. Rosenstein are accurate, they do not comport with the university's Code of Conduct. Video recording of individuals in a public restroom without permission is an unacceptable violation of personal privacy under any circumstances," the statement said. "Prof. Rosenstein is being placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into this allegation."

But Rosenstein, a longtime Chief opponent, said Tuesday he was acting as a journalist and believes he was wrongfully detained by police.

The incident occurred during Monday's Illini basketball game against Michigan State and also involved Ivan "Alex" Dozier, a UI graduate and a vocal member of the Honor the Chief Society.

Dozier said Rosenstein followed him and others into a bathroom where Omar Cruz — the current unofficial Chief portrayer — was changing into his costume, and used his phone to tape them. Rosenstein is creator of the award-winning 1997 documentary "In Whose Honor?" about the negative effects of Native American imagery in sports.

Champaign County sheriff's records show that Rosenstein, 57, of Champaign, was booked into the jail at 9:46 p.m. Monday on a preliminary charge of unauthorized videotaping, which is usually a Class A misdemeanor if the recording takes place in a public restroom without the permission of the person being recorded.

Rosenstein was released from custody about 9 a.m. Tuesday.

"Jay Rosenstein has been released and will not be in court. We are declining to file charges at this time," said State's Attorney Julia Rietz, speaking from a conference in Washington, D.C. "The criminal-justice system is not the place to gain an advantage for one side or the other on a public debate."

Rietz said she was not condoning Rosenstein's actions, but said "there are other ways these issues can be addressed outside of criminal charges."

'Wrongfully detained'

UI police spokesman Patrick Wade said police were called to State Farm Center at 8:53 p.m. by the arena's security team. They saw Rosenstein recording a group of people in the hallway of the arena and then follow them into the bathroom, "apparently holding the phone in a way that indicated he was recording," Wade said.

Police talked with both parties, and the group followed by Rosenstein said they were uncomfortable with his actions and wanted to press charges, Wade said. Rosenstein admitted he was recording the group in the bathroom, and police informed him that was a violation of state law and arrested him, Wade said.

"He indicated to us that he felt a journalistic responsibility to record what was happening at the time," Wade said, noting that Rosenstein is an outspoken critic of the Chief.

Police did not say that Rosenstein actually filmed anyone using the bathroom.

Wade said the Chief issue had no bearing on the officers' decision.

"The arrest was based on that very strict interpretation of the statute as they knew it," he said. "That's all our officers can really work on."

Rosenstein released a statement to The News-Gazette on Tuesday:

"I am a nationally recognized and international award winning documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist. I believe I was wrongfully detained because of my efforts to investigate whether employees of the State Farm Center are taking an active role in facilitating the appearance of the unapproved Chief Illiniwek."

Rosenstein also provided a copy of a threatening email he received following reports of the incident Tuesday and said UI police are investigating.

'Kind of stunned'

Dozier, an agronomist with a startup firm at the UI Research Park, posted about the incident on Facebook late Monday night.

He told The News-Gazette on Tuesday that he was standing in the hallway at State Farm Center when he saw Rosenstein apparently using his cellphone camera.

"I wasn't sure if he saw me," Dozier said, and as the two men had had some "unpleasant interactions" in the past, he decided to duck into the bathroom. Dozier said his dad and Cruz were already inside preparing for Cruz's appearance, though that wasn't mentioned in his Facebook post.

"I went ahead and used the urinal and after I was done, I turned around and there's Jay with his camera still out," he said. "I was approaching the sink. He said 'Ivan, I thought I might find you in here.' I was kind of stunned and didn't know what to say."

Dozier said he wasn't sure how long Rosenstein had been there and doesn't know what he actually taped.

"The first thing I did was check to make sure I was covered," he said.

Dozier said his dad told Rosenstein to leave, and he and another member of the Honor the Chief Society flagged down security.

"They were able to prevent the situation from escalating," he said.

'A higher standard'

Dozier said he debated whether to say anything publicly but posted about the incident because "I didn't want people hearing rumors."

"At the end of the day, this is the University of Illinois and we need to hold our professors to a higher standard than this," he said. "I want students on campus to feel free to open up and express their beliefs without fear of their professor stalking them into the bathroom."

He said he was "disappointed but not surprised" that Rosenstein wasn't charged.

The UI's statement said the campus would not comment publicly on the details of its investigation but said the outcome would likely be considered public information.

Chief Illiniwek was retired in 2007 after years of criticism that it was a racist mascot.

But the Honor the Chief Society has continued to press for a return of the Chief or some semblance of the UI tradition and has named unofficial Chief portrayers each year. They dress in Native American regalia and appear at UI football and basketball games and the annual UI homecoming parade; Cruz's appearance last fall sparked a large protest.

Under a 2013 legal settlement agreement with the university, the society is not allowed to use Chief logo or the name "Chief Illiniwek" in such appearances.

* * * * *

UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.:

CHAMPAIGN — A University of Illinois professor arrested Monday night for allegedly videotaping a former unofficial Chief Illiniwek portrayer in a bathroom at State Farm Center has been put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

A statement from the UI said Jay Rosenstein, professor of media and cinema studies, allegedly admitted videotaping a person in a public restroom and was arrested by UI police on charges of unauthorized videotaping, though he was not charged in the incident.

"If the allegations against Prof. Rosenstein are accurate, they do not comport with the university's Code of Conduct. Video recording of individuals in a public restroom without permission is an unacceptable violation of personal privacy under any circumstances," the statement said. "Prof. Rosenstein is being placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into this allegation."

The UI's statement said the campus would not comment publicly on the details of the investigation but said the outcome of the investigation would likely be considered public information.

* * * * *

UPDATE, 12:30 p.m.:

CHAMPAIGN — University of Illinois Professor Jay Rosenstein was arrested Monday night for allegedly videotaping a former Chief Illiniwek portrayer in a bathroom at State Farm Center, though he was later released without being charged.

A Facebook post from Ivan "Alex" Dozier shortly after 11 p.m. said that Rosenstein, a longtime Chief opponent, allegedly followed him into a bathroom during the Illinois-Michigan State game and was using a phone to videotape him.

Dozier is a member of the Honor the Chief Society and has made several appearances on campus in recent months to promote awareness of the history of Chief Illiniwek. Rosenstein is an award-winning professor of media and cinema studies and the creator of the 1997 documentary “In Whose Honor?” about the negative effects of Native American imagery in sports.

Champaign County sheriff's records show that Rosenstein, 57, of Champaign, was booked into the jail at 9:46 p.m. on a preliminary charge of unauthorized videotaping, which is usually a Class A misdemeanor if the recording takes place in a public restroom without the permission of the person being recorded.

But Rosenstein was not charged and was later released from custody, Champaign County Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said Tuesday morning.

"Jay Rosenstein has been released and will not be in court. We are declining to file charges at this time," said State's Attorney Julia Rietz, speaking from a conference in Washington, D.C. "The criminal justice system is not the place to gain an advantage for one side or the other on a public debate."

Rietz said she was not condoning Rosenstein's actions, but said "there are other ways these issues can be addressed outside of criminal charges."

UI Police spokesman Patrick Wade said police were called to the State Farm Center at 8:53 p.m. by the arena’s security team, who witnessed the event. They saw Rosenstein recording a group of people in the hallway of the arena and then follow them into the bathroom, “apparently holding the phone in a way that indicated he was recording,” Wade said.

Police talked with both parties, and the group followed by Rosenstein said they were uncomfortable with his actions and wanted to press charges, Wade said.

Rosenstein admitted he was recording the group in the bathroom, and police informed him that was a violation of state law and arrested him, Wade said.

“He indicated to us that he felt a journalistic responsibility to record what was happening at the time,” Wade said, noting that Rosenstein is an outspoken critic of the Chief.

Police did not say that Rosenstein actually filmed anyone using the bathroom.

Wade said the Chief issue had no bearing on the officers’ decision.

“The arrest was based on that very strict interpretation of the statute as they knew it,” he said. “That’s all our officers can really work on,” he said.

Rosenstein initially declined comment when contacted this morning but later released a statement to The News-Gazette:

"I am a nationally recognized and international award winning documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist. I believe I was wrongfully detained because of my efforts to investigate whether employees of the State Farm Center are taking an active role in facilitating the appearance of the unapproved Chief Illiniwek," Rosenstein said.

The current unofficial Chief portrayer, UI student Omar Cruz, appeared at the game Monday night, according to Dozier. Cruz also marched in last fall's Homecoming parade but was escorted away when protesters blocked him.

Dozier said he noticed Rosenstein in the hallway at the game and wanted to avoid a confrontation so he ducked into the restroom, where his father and Cruz had gone so he could change into his regalia.

"After finishing my business at the urinal, I turned to find the professor, phone still in hand (and) pointed right at me. I was almost speechless...the man was literally trying to catch me with my pants down. You'd think as many times as I've been harassed by this guy, that I would know how to react by now," he said in his Facebook post.

"Thankfully, my dad was in one of the stalls and heard the confrontation. He emerged from the stall and was able to quickly flag down security," Dozier wrote.

Dozier, an agronomist with a startup firm at the UI Research Park, went on to say that the campus environment is "unsafe" and that "this isn't a political thing for me...I'm not here trying to be an activist or make a big scene. All I want is to be able to go to an Illini game, and be proud of the Native heritage that we used to honor and respect at this school. Instead, I have professors literally following me into the bathroom...clearly misinterpreting the term expose."

"Regardless of your stance on the chief issue..this kind of activity by our professors, campus employees, and the administration that defends them is absolutely unacceptable," he wrote.

Chief Illiniwek was retired in 2007 after years of criticism that it was a racist mascot. But the Honor the Chief Society has continued to press for some remembrance of the UI tradition and has named unofficial Chief portrayers each year, including Dozier. They dress in Native American regalia and make appearances in the crowd at UI football and basketball games. They've also appeared annually in the Homecoming parade as part of the Honor the Chief entry, sparking large protests last fall.

Under a 2013 legal settlement agreement with the university, the society is not allowed to use Chief logo or the name "Chief Illiniwek" in such appearances.

News-Gazette staff writer Julie Wurth contributed to this report.

 

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