A new Rolling Stone article on sexual assault allegations at the University of Virginia details several disturbing allegations of rape, including one that reportedly launched a Title IX investigation into the school’s sexual misconduct policies.
The Title IX case is described in an anonymous letter that appears to have been passed around UVA students and alumni in 2012. We found the letter in full on a Reddit thread and on the Tumblr page of Slate reporter Jamelle Bouie.
This student’s Title IX complaint against UVA is currently under investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), according to Rolling Stone. UVA was one of 55 schools originally announced as being under investigation by OCR in May.
However, UVA may have “more reason to worry than most of its peers,” Rolling Stone reports. According to the magazine, “UVA is one of only 12 schools under a sweeping investigation known as ‘compliance review’: a proactive probe launched by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights itself, triggered by concerns about deep-rooted issues.”
In the letter, the anonymous UVA student alleges that she was raped by a fellow student after blacking out a party, where she was likely drugged. We can’t verify the authenticity of the account, but it is incredibly detailed:
He offered me a beer during a club meeting on Grounds. The next thing I knew, I woke up on a bed in a sun-lit room, naked, in pain, next to him. I rushed out of the apartment as quickly as I could, even though I had no idea where I was. I spent the day confused, sinking deeper and deeper into depression, mercilessly blaming myself for putting myself in such a vulnerable position. I got home, ripped my clothes off and took an hour long shower, scrubbing my body down to the bone, cleaning any remaining semen I had on me. However, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t feel clean. I could only look at myself in the mirror in disgust, seeing him on top of me. I tried getting through the remainder of the day as though nothing had happened. It wasn’t so simple. Something in me had changed, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. Suicidal thoughts constantly crossed my mind. In one day, I had morphed from a cheery and carefree girl into an empty shell whose life had become a nightmare. By the end of the day, I was unable to keep the pain to myself and broke down in tears as I recounted the few memories I had of the night to two of my closest friends. I remember crumbling onto the floor as I realised that I had been raped.
The student then claims she went to the Dean of Student’s office, where she alleges that she was “encouraged not to officially report the rape, but rather to go through mediation with the rapist.” Not only did she allegedly file a formal complaint with the school, but the student also says she reported the rape to local police, who ultimately dismissed her case:
A week after the rape, I gathered enough courage to file a complaint with the police. They took me to the UVA Hospital for a forensic examination. My complaint was dropped within a week, before the prosecution even looked at my forensic examination report. It took them two months to tell me that I did not have sufficient evidence. Apparently in Charlottesville, a woman has to be unconscious and carried back to a man’s place for non-consensual sex to be proved.
“It was just bad sex,” the prosecutor said. I was devastated.
The school’s investigation moved forward slowly, she alleges, but she was eventually granted a hearing for her sexual misconduct complaint:
Finally, four months after the worst day of my life, I was granted a hearing. However, before the hearing, a pre-hearing was to take place. No one had prepared me for it. The day before, my advisor, Dean C., told me that both the rapist and I had to present our evidence and that Dean E. would ultimately decide which evidence would be presented to the panel at the hearing. Dean E., the rapist and I sat together in a small conference room in Peabody Hall. It was the first time I had seen him since the rape. Suddenly, I forgot how to breathe and how to speak and I could barely restrain myself from running out of the room. What had happened before happened once again: he was the dominant figure and I could barely defend myself. Before I knew it, most of my evidence, like he had been accused of drugging others, was deemed “prejudicial” against him and was ruled out as evidence for the hearing. I tried maintaining my composure until I left Peabody Hall, but inside, I felt defeated, helpless and defenseless.
The hearing was held in the same room as the pre-hearing, where I sat diagonally across the rapist, just a few feet away from him. I could feel his glare on me every time I spoke, and I could see him smirk the few times I dared glance his way. I was sworn in on my honour at the beginning of the hearing while the rapist wasn’t. I spent ten hours answering the most invasive and humiliating questions from a panel who questioned every one of my statements. Had I ever had “visions” before? Was I on medication? Was I romantically interested in him? Did I say “no” forcefully enough for him to understand? Did it hurt because it was my first sexual experience? On the other hand, the rapist’s testimony was barely questioned. No one was interested in the fact that he contradicted himself and lied multiple times during the hearing. He was shamelessly callous, arrogant, disrespectful and remorseless, as if he already knew the outcome. None of my witnesses’ statements seemed to bear any weight against his word. Moreover, I had no form of support in the hearing despite the fact I had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), of which Dean E. was very well aware.
The student opens her letter with the conclusion of her case, read to both her and her accused rapist by Dean E. — most likely Dean Nicole Eramo, head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board:
“This was a very difficult case. Ms. X provides a very compelling and believable account of the events and has clearly been affected by this incident. Mr. Y, your behaviour was crass and disrespectful but this panel could not come to a unanimous conclusion that the policy had been violated in this instance. That said, this panel urges you, Mr. Y, to evaluate your actions and your treatment of women in the future. We would strongly suggest that you consider counseling around the issue of consent and respecting the wishes of your sexual partners. The panel wishes Ms. X well as she continues to work through the trauma that this incident has clearly caused.”
We reached out to UVA for comment on this letter and will update the post if we hear back.
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