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URBANA University of Illinois Professor Jay Rosenstein is challenging the initial accounts of his arrest at State Farm Center earlier this week.

Rosenstein, a professor of media and cinema studies, said he wanted to respond to “certain rumors and innuendo” about Monday night’s incident, in which he was accused of following members of a pro Chief Illiniwek group into a bathroom and videotaping them.

Countering initial descriptions of what happened, Rosenstein said he did not record Honor the Chief board member Ivan “Alex” Dozier or anyone else urinating or “in a state of undress.”

“I have never, ever at any time or any place, filmed or recorded anyone in a state of undress or urinating in a public bathroom,” he said Thursday. “It’s an absolute, complete lie.”

A documentary filmmaker and vocal opponent of Native American sports mascots, Rosenstein said he was at the arena on the night of the Illini Michigan State game to film the student appointed by the Honor the Chief Society to dress up like the Chief at various public events.

He said he was hoping to get a shot of the student putting on his costume and “document all of the ways that university employees might be involved in helping to facilitate” the Chief’s performance.

Rosenstein said he’s been following the Chief Illiniwek saga since 1993, and has periodically updated his 1997 documentary “In Whose Honor?” with additional footage. He’s also been planning to create a comprehensive video on the Chief issue today, so getting footage of his appearances at Illinois is part of that effort, he said.

“I was able to shoot some brief footage a couple of years ago of two university police officers appearing to be standing guard while Ivan Dozier changed out of the Chief costume in a small entranceway off of the main hall,” he wrote in an email Thursday, in response to questions about the incident.

If university employees were involved in the Chief’s performances, he added, “it would be a serious violation of the university’s agreement with the NCAA regarding the Chief, a major story and a big journalistic scoop.”

“Since I only got a brief glimpse before, I was hoping to more thoroughly document the process of the Chief’s appearance and where and how university employees were involved the Chief putting on the costume, standing wherever he stood, walking out into the arena, back in, and then changing out of the outfit,” he said in the email.

He added that “the guy actually dressed as the Chief was very much a secondary issue.”

Rosenstein said he didn’t directly follow the group into the bathroom, but saw two State Farm Center security guards in front of it, and another woman wearing a Chief T shirt nearby, and presumed the Chief portrayer was inside. Given that the game was in progress it was midway through the first half the hallway was otherwise virtually empty,
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he said.

He said he walked just inside the door of the bathroom to see if it was being used “as a private staging area” for Dozier and his father, who was also at the game, and Omar Cruz, the current unofficial Chief portrayer. He believed they were all inside, and “to the best of my knowledge, they were the only people inside the bathroom while I was present.”

“At all times while I was present, Ivan Dozier was fully clothed and standing by a sink near the door, nowhere near the urinals. In fact, no one was visibly in a state of undress while I was present,” Rosenstein said.

‘No such footage’

UI Police spokesman Patrick Wade had said Tuesday that Rosenstein admitted recording inside the restroom but the report didn’t specify what he recorded.

“Let me state this as clearly and unambiguously as I can: I did not, that evening, record Ivan Dozier or anyone else urinating or in a state of undress. There is no such footage on my phone, nor has there ever been. Nor for that matter have I ever recorded Ivan Dozier or anyone else urinating in a bathroom at any time or any place. Nor did I see Dozier or anyone else urinating or in a state of undress in that bathroom,” Rosenstein said.

He added, “My observations were from the vantage of the entrance to the restroom. Looking into the room from that location, I saw Dozier standing at the bathroom sink, fully clothed.”

The initial Facebook post from Dozier said that he saw Rosenstein, “phone still in hand and pointed right at me,” after he finished using the urinal and alleged that Rosenstein was “literally trying to catch me with my pants down.”

Dozier later told The News Gazette he was approaching the sink when he saw Rosenstein and wasn’t sure how long he’d been there or what he had taped. He called it a shocking and “violating” experience.

Rosenstein said Dozier’s insinuation, and News Gazette stories about it, went viral and prompted commenters to accuse him of being a “pervert.” He called Dozier’s accusations “disgusting.”

Dozier stood by his account Thursday: “That’s how I felt,” he said.

“What Jay Rosenstein did was absolutely illegal,” Dozier said. “I don’t care what he saw or what he expected to see or what he didn’t see. He broke the law. You should not enter a public restroom with a camera rolling. I don’t care why you’re trying to gather footage. I don’t care what your justification would be. . That is something that is not appropriate, especially given a context that this is a university professor that is in charge of educating students.”Rosenstein did not address what he may have recorded inside the restroom, or whether he knew that filming in a public restroom without the permission of the person being recorded is a violation of state law.

He said his lawyer has insisted that he not discuss other aspects because of the UI’s pending investigation.

Police confiscated Rosenstein’s phone during the arrest but never searched it, Wade said. That would have required a search warrant, and that wasn’t done because no formal charges were filed,
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he said. The phone was returned to Rosenstein on Tuesday.

A statement from the UI on Tuesday said the allegations against Rosenstein “do not comport with the university’s Code of Conduct” and that videotaping in a public restroom without permission is “an unacceptable violation of personal privacy under any circumstances.”