Second Hearing Postponed: Head Of Student Conduct Awaiting Verdict

Angela Fortuna, Editor-in-Chief

by Angela Fortuna

Central Connecticut Office of Student Conduct Director Christopher Dukes was granted a continuance to May 22 on charges related to domestic violence filed against him from an incident that occurred on April 25.

Dukes sought and received his first continuance at the court hearing last Monday, April 30, with the agreement that he surrendered 11 firearms, two of which were unregistered, and complies with GPS monitoring, according to court records.

At the hearing held Monday, the judge was notified by Dukes’ attorney, Marina Green, that he has thus far complied with court-ordered GPS monitoring, and the hearing was granted another continuance.

Dukes, 45, was arrested by Hartford police on-site and was later charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree strangulation, second-degree threatening, third-degree assault, second-degree breach of peace and risk of injury to a child, according to court reports obtained by The Recorder.

The university placed Dukes on administrative leave following the incident.

The incident took place in a single residence in Hartford just after midnight. When the officer arrived at the scene, he observed the victim run “barefooted in a robe” towards him in “a panicked state,” according to an incident report obtained by The Recorder.

Dukes allegedly grabbed the victim in a chokehold before bringing her to the basement of the Hartford residence, binding her with duct tape, punching and threatening to kill her, according to the report.

The victim allegedly noticed several pre-cut strips of duct tape in the basement. The victim later overheard a phone call between Dukes and his mother, where he allegedly told his mother that he had gone too far, and that is what the victim believes to be the reason Dukes released her from the basement, according to the report.

When police responded, Dukes allegedly refused to leave the house in a standoff that lasted just shy of three hours. During the standoff, he reportedly said, “I don’t want Police to come in my house, and I have a gun in my hand,” according to the report.

The standoff resulted in no further violence, as Dukes eventually agreed to exit the home on his own, where he was taken into custody, the report stated.

There were firearms located throughout the residence, which were easily accessible, police said the victim reported to the police at the time of the incident.

“At this time, I am limited as to how much I can share with you because it is a personnel matter, but know that I am extremely concerned about the situation,” CCSU President Dr. Zulma Toro said in an email statement to all actively enrolled students, faculty and administration on April 30. “[Dukes has been notified] that he is not allowed access to campus until the University conducts an investigation into this matter. As always, we must abide by the principles of due process.”

“We have taken measures to ensure services and support offered to our students through the Office of Student Conduct continue and that our campus remains a safe environment for all,” Dr. Toro said in a press release.

Dukes makes $113,000 a year as the director of the office of student conduct at Central. He has worked for the university since 1996, a spokeswoman for the university said.

He was released after posting $450,000 bail.

Alexis Evans, a “very close friend” of Dukes, started a GoFundMe page to help cover “attorney costs and financial barriers that he [Dukes] is currently facing,” according to the page.

“Many friends have reached out to me to ask, ‘how can I help him or support him? What can we do?’ He has always been there for his family and friends, which is the reason it is our turn to give back,” Evans said in the GoFundMe description. “Please donate what you can, any amount helps. He [Dukes] will not only be appreciative, but he will always pay it forward as you all already know. His character and soul speaks for itself.”

The GoFundMe page has reached over $1,500 in five days, with a goal set for $20,000.

Dukes refused to comment on the matter when approached by The Recorder.

Stephen Balkaran, Lecturer of the Center for African Studies, was at the hearing that took place earlier today. Balkaran came to show support for Dukes, as he said he has received encouragement from Dukes in the past.

Although the incident did not take place on campus, Dr. Toro said that for now, Peter Troiano, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs, is working with Stephanie Reis, assistant director of the Office of Student Conduct, to “ensure services and support offered to our students through the Office of Student Conduct continue as usual and that our campus remains a safe environment for all.”

Dukes is “awaiting disposition” and is due back in Hartford Superior Court on May 22.