Harrell fills in as president

ASEWU president arrested and released for alleged assault

By Jane Martin and Amy Meyer

ASEWU Vice President Becca Harrell stepped into the role of student body president Friday after Kaleb Hoffer was arrested and booked on charges of second-degree assault earlier that morning.

This action followed a temporary succession plan that is enacted when a senior executive member of the ASEWU is unable to fulfill his or her duties, said Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Stacey Reece.

Hoffer, 23, who was elected ASEWU president last spring, was arrested after a fight with his girlfriend, Cheney Police Chief John Hensley said Monday.

According to a report filed by Officer Nicholas Briggs of the Cheney Police Department, he and another officer talked with both Krista Philen, 24, Hoffer’s girlfriend of more than two years, and Lindsey White outside a residence on the 1200 block of Second Street.

Philen reported that she had been at a party with Hoffer when she discovered him texting another female.

Philen’s signed statement in the police report reads: “We were arguing over a text he received and went into the bathroom where we argued more and I slapped him. … and asked to see his phone, went to grab it and he choked me against the wall and then I kicked him in the groin. …he also kicked me in the chest and mouth as I screamed. I got out of the bathroom and went downstairs.”

“Philen stated that Hoffer’s grasp on her neck was forceful enough to prevent or impede her breathing for several seconds,” says the report.

According to Briggs’s report, he couldn’t see any injury on Philen’s mouth, but he found bruising on her chest in the front shoulder area and marks consistent with the sole of a shoe.

Briggs stated that White told him that she had been at the party with Philen but did not witness the fight. She said that she saw Philen come downstairs at the party crying, and Philen had told her that Hoffer kicked and choked her.

The police report states that police arrived at Hoffer’s residence at approximately 1:15 a.m.

“Hoffer, who was highly intoxicated, stated that he had been at the party with Philen, and that they were in an argument in an upstairs bathroom regarding him texting another female. Hoffer stated that he never touched Philen, and that he didn’t know why she would accuse him of assaulting her,” according to Briggs’s report.

The report states that “based on Philen’s statements, [her] observable injuries and White’s observations of Philen immediately after the incident, [Briggs] determined that there was probable cause to arrest Hoffer for assault second degree.”

The inmate roster at the Spokane County Jail indicated that Hoffer was booked shortly after 2 a.m. Friday. He was released without bail the same day, according to the roster.

“I have not been charged with anything and any story about me should reflect that,” Hoffer said in an interview on Facebook Saturday. “I was falsely accused and wrongfully arrested.”

“As far as we know, the charges have not been dropped. … [Hoffer] was released pending the filing of charges, [but] he did not get off free,” Hensley said.

Dean of Students Amy Johnson stressed that it is important for students to understand that there is a succession plan that is enacted when a senior executive leader of the ASEWU is unable to fulfill his or her duties for an extended period of time. Johnson added that this plan was enacted on Friday.

Reece said that while Becca Harrell is acting as the student body president, Justin Filla, who fills the student services and speaker pro tem post, will step up to fill Harrell’s job as vice president. Harrell is a junior majoring in public relations.

Reece stressed that this was a temporary plan. She said that the role of the ASEWU hasn’t changed. “They are charged with the goals they crafted on the students’ behalf,” she said. “They plan to keep moving forward.”

The succession plan will remain in effect while Hoffer is unable to fulfill his duties.

The story was initially broken on The Easterner’s website, EasternerOnline.com. The link was posted to The Easterner’s Facebook page, where on Monday readers posted 31 comments sharing conflicting reactions.

Hoffer posted his own reaction to the story on The Easterner’s Facebook wall. “There are two sides to every story and the due process will reveal the truth in the end,” he wrote. “Anyone who knows me, knows that I am as nonviolent as they come. I encourage everyone affected by this story to wait for the truth.”