Unsilenced: How this mother fought to protect her daughter... and yours.

"Mom, I was raped."

The words hit Susan Russell like a fist to the stomach in late winter 2004, and she responded with a question to her 20-year-old daughter, Kathryn, who was home from UVA for the weekend.

"'Did you call the police?" Russell recalls asking, certain that law enforcement and school administrators would help her daughter through the ordeal and bring her attacker to justice.

That's not how things would go.

Prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence to take the case. UVA's Sexual Assault Board agreed, issuing a not guilty verdict after hearing from  Kathryn and the man she accused. But Russell believed her daughter's account, and the idea that her child's assailant would get away without any punishment sparked within her a transformation from anguished mother into fearless victim's advocate. Since 2004, her efforts have brought rape victims at UVA out of the shadows and helped instigate change to UVA's sexual assault policy. Most recently, Russell has pushed for a change in state law regarding how rape and murder investigations are handled at all state universities.

"I will not back down," says Russell, who's boldly placed her daughter's alleged rapist's picture and name on the front page of her website even though, without a conviction against him, such a move could elicit legal action against her.

"Let him sue me," she says. "I have nothing to hide."
It's a no-holds barred attitude that's won her enemies and friends, but she says there's only one thing that will bring her peace: the arrest and conviction of Curtis Ofori.

It's peace she's unlikely to find.

February 13, 2004
Russell knew something was wrong with her daughter, Kathryn, when she picked her up at her UVA dorm just after 6am on Friday morning, February 13, 2004 to go watch Kathryn's younger brother swim in a high school state championship meet at Radford University, about two and half hours southwest of Charlottesville. The usually cheerful 20-year-old "got in the car, and just huddled toward the car door," recalls Russell. When they got to the swim meet, the mother recalls, Kathryn didn't want to get out of the car, and even later in the day, when the family checked in to a hotel, the slender brunette college student remained withdrawn, although she had no fever or other sign of illness.

"She just laid down on the bed, curled up, and she wouldn't go to dinner with us," says Russell, who says she assumed it was just moodiness and still feels remorse that she didn't press her daughter to explain what was wrong: that she'd allegedly been raped only a few hours earlier.

"I'm haunted by that," says Susan Russell, who figures she'd have accompanied her daughter to the police station. "It could have made a difference in the case."

Instead, it was nearly a week later, and after she'd already filed a police report and spoken with UVA administrators, that Kathryn finally told her mother about the assault. If mother and daughter initially expected the perpetrator would be brought to justice, however, both were wrong.

"They didn't do anything," says Russell.

Is anybody listening?
The days following her assault are a blur, says Kathryn Russell, now 27 and living in Washington D.C. where she has worked as an education consultant to the mayor and in real estate investing.

"I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat," she recalls.

That, say mental health experts, is a nearly universal reaction to the trauma of rape. In the first hours after a sexual assault, the victim is initially in shock and "may seem stunned, dazed," and have difficulty processing what's happened, according to literature from Trauma Intervention Programs, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to helping victims. The trauma-induced cognitive impairment affects the victim's ability to advocate for herself or take the necessary steps to ensure evidence is collected.

Kathryn says that was true in her case, but although she didn't share what had happened immediately with her mother, she did speak to several friends by phone while she was away, and on Sunday, February 15, 2004, two days after the alleged assault and terrified she could have become pregnant, she called the UVA student health clinic to request a prescription for a so-called morning-after pill. She told a nurse that the sex had been nonconsensual, but the nurse didn't recommend she come in to the hospital for a forensic exam known as a PERK, which must be performed within 72 hours of an assault. That was only the beginning, Kathryn says, in a series of alleged failures from school and medical officials, police and prosecutors, to take the steps to ensure justice would be served.

On Monday, accompanied by a friend and sorority sister who'd been raped several years earlier, Kathryn went to UVA police to file a report. From there, on her friend's advice, she says, she went to the ER where she was told the nurse who was trained to perform the PERK was not available. She waited more than three hours, she says, and while she was given a standard gynecological exam and a prescription for antibiotics to fight STDs, she was given no advice on what steps she should take next. She finally dressed and prepared to leave, and on her way out, she says, a nurse asked if she'd like to undergo an exam with a fluorescent light that reveals tearing. Not realizing the purpose of the exam, and that it might provide the only physical evidence she'd have to prove rape, Kathryn says she declined to disrobe a second time and undergo another exam.

"I just wanted to get out of there," she says, stressing her frustration that the medical personnel allegedly didn't explain the critical nature of the test they suggested to a traumatized 20-year-old.

Receiving updates from her daughter, Susan Russell says, she felt increasingly helpless– and a meeting with then assistant Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney Rick Moore didn't help, as he explained there wasn't enough evidence for local prosecutors to take the case.

Kathryn says her experience with the UVA Sexual Assault Board process was equally disheartening, as administrators offered mediation as an option and warned her that if she spoke about her case publicly, she– the victim– could face expulsion for an Honor Code violation.

That's when her mother's anger grew.

"You think something's going to be taken care of," Russell says. "And then you realize they're not going to do anything at all."

Desperate to bring attention to Kathryn's plight, and to see if any other women had similar experiences, Russell created a website, www.uvavictimsofrape.com, in March 2004. The original version of the site was simply an invitation for women who'd been raped at UVA to contact Russell, and at first, Russell recalls, the site had little traffic. But after she posted flyers around UVA and the Cavalier Daily wrote a story about Russell's website, the floodgates opened.

"I heard from 100 women in one week," she says. Most of them had stories that were just like Kathryn's: they'd been raped, and, they told her, nothing had been done about it.

Russell's journey to activism had begun.

"If no one else was going to do anything," she says, "I would."

Shining a national spotlight
Among the women who contacted Susan Russell in the months after she launched her website in March 2004 was Annie McLaughlin. Now a married mother and autistic education specialist living in Charlottesville, McLaughlin had a story strikingly similar to Kathryn's– particularly her account of UVA's handling of her case. And in fact, it was McLaughlin who'd guided Kathryn through reporting her assault to police and accompanied her to the Emergency Room.

In her first semester at UVA, in December 2001, McLaughlin, who then went by her maiden name, Hylton, accepted an invitation to go on a double date to a fraternity function with a third year student named Matthew Hamilton. During dinner before the event, McLaughlin would later allege in a lawsuit, Hamilton procured alcoholic beverages for the then-18-year-old McLaughlin, who claimed she drank a small amount but not enough to explain her extreme impairment later in the evening, when she became nauseous, vomited, and passed out in Hamilton's room in the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house. She awakened to discover Hamilton engaging in sexual intercourse with her.

Like Kathryn, McLaughlin was told by prosecutors that her case was unwinnable– a he said/she said– and although Hamilton was found guilty by the school's sexual assault board, McLaughlin says he was allowed to remain until his 2003 graduation, even though the school's vaunted Honor Code calls for expulsion of students found guilty of minor academic infractions.

Furthermore, McLaughlin was outraged by UVA's effort to silence her by requiring her to sign a confidentiality agreement prohibiting her from speaking about her assault or the guilty verdict. Russell supported McLaughlin when she went public in a November 11, 2004 Hook cover story titled "How UVA Turns its back on rape" and criticized the school's requirement that rape victims remain silent about Sexual Assault Board proceedings. News of the policy prompted a massive protest by hundreds of students who donned gags and stood in silence, and UVA issued a revised sexual assault policy in January 2005. It wasn't enough for either McLaughlin and Russell, both of whom filed complaints against UVA with the Department of Educaton alleging violations of the Clery Act, the federal law that regulates the rights of victims on college campuses.

"They were breaking the law," says Russell.

Four years later, the Department of Education ruled that UVA could not require or in any way suggest that victims keep quiet about their sexual assault hearings or the outcomes. The Department also ordered that the sexual assault board weigh verdicts using the "preponderance of the evidence" standard rather than the more stringent "clear and convincing evidence" by which both Kathryn Russell and McLaughlin's cases were judged. UVA was among the first in the nation to completely revamp its sexual assault policy, doing away with mediation and broadening the definition of sexual misconduct.

"There is a sense of vindication," Russell says of the Department's ruling and UVA's improved policy, "but there's so much more that needs to be done."

For McLaughlin, there was some further vindication from a lawsuit she filed against Hamilton in 2003 for nearly $2 million, of which she'd eventually be awarded $150,000. With her mother's support, Kathryn Russell also sued Ofori in 2006. However, the overwhelming expense coupled with an attorney's advice that even if she were victorious, she likely wouldn't receive enough money to cover her legal expenses, led her to withdraw the Charlottesville suit two years later.

It does serve as a permanent record, however, of the night she says her life changed forever.

Classmate
There was nothing unusual about the early evening of February 12, 2004. Kathryn and one of her suitemates had attended a Thursday night event at O'Neill's Irish Pub on the Corner, now the location of Trinity Irish Pub, where Kathryn encountered a fellow student, Curtis Ofori, whom she knew from a campus club.

"We weren't friends," says Russell, adding that she found Ofori to be "arrogant."

According to her suit, Ofori was flirtatious with her at O'Neill's, touching her leg and shoulder without encouragement. She claims to have avoided him until sometime around midnight, she says, when she and her suitemate headed home. As soon as the two women left the bar, Ofori, the suit states, called Kathryn's suitemate, who was driving, to ask for a ride. The suitemate agreed, and when she missed the turn to Ofori's apartment on Virginia Avenue, he suggested they take him to a dorm across the street from their own. Once there, however, the suit alleges, Ofori stated his plan all along had been to stay in their suite.

After parking the car, her suitemate went inside and to her room, leaving an irritated and intoxicated Kathryn alone to deal with Ofori. She took an air mattress from the trunk of her car, then went to her bedroom to retrieve the pump from under her bed. That's when, the suit alleges, Ofori came into her room behind her and began touching her from behind. Kathryn objected and tried to leave the room, but she alleges Ofori grabbed her, shut the door, turned off the light and pushed her onto the bed. The suit says he held her down as he removed her clothes and his own, then proceeded to rape her as she pleaded for him to stop.

The suit further alleges that when a roommate knocked on the door, Ofori "rested his body on her and whispered for her to remain quiet," an action that allegedly made her too fearful to scream. After raping her the first time, he forced her to perform oral sex, the suit alleges, then raped her a second time.

Ofori, who is a student at Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, did not respond to the Hook's emailed request for comment or to emails sent to a consulting company he heads, Certify Me Now. According to an investigative report on Kathryn's case by the Center for Public Integrity, Ofori's defense with the UVA sexual assault board was that Kathryn had "tacitly agreed to have sex" by not saying no, and by requesting a condom. Kathryn says one part of his account is true: that she asked him to use a condom. She agrees that she made the request 'because it was the only way I could protect myself." In his defense, Ofori agreed that "not all my actions would in a day-to-day situation be considered kosher, but none of my actions broached or even swept near the arena of rape."

In addition to objecting to the numerous reminders of the illegal confidentiality requirement, both Susan and Kathryn Russell are critical of way in which the school handled Kathryn's case. According to Kathryn, the dean of students waited weeks to interview Ofori. And during the actual hearing, Kathryn says, the questioning by student and faculty board members led her to feel they lacked training to be handling such cases.

"Why didn't you close the door?" one board member reportedly asked her, according to the Center for Public Integrity report.

There was another issue, as well.

During the hearing, Ofori was represented by his identical twin brother, Otis Ofori, who would later graduate from UVA Law School. Otis, a member of the UVA Honor Committee, had some personal experience with accusations from which to draw. The previous year, in November 2003, he was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl while traveling in Atlanta. An incident report taken by Atlanta Police and released through a Freedom of Information Act request details the girl's complaint– that Otis took her into a hotel conference room and sexually assaulted her. No official charges were filed and the Hook could not locate any records to explain the dispensation of the case.

Numerous efforts to reach Otis Ofori were unsuccessful. He did not respond to emailed messages, appeared to block a Hook reporter from messaging him a second time through Facebook, and a cellphone number provided by a D.C.-based real estate firm for which he works was answered by someone who claimed Ofori was unavailable. That person hung up on the reporter, and future messages went unreturned.
Susan Russell says she provided copies of the Atlanta incident report to UVA administrators in 2004, asking how someone who'd faced such accusations could be allowed to serve on the Honor Committee and to act as representation in his brother's case– what would turn out to be his brother's first case.

In April 2005– a month before the two Oforis graduated– a second female UVA student filed a sexual assault complaint against Curtis Ofori. He was initially found guilty in that case, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. The alleged victim in that case did not respond to the Hook's emailed request for comment. The successful appeal, however, helped pave the way for Curtis Ofori to attend one of the most prestigious business schools in the country: Wharton, where he is one of 34 students profiled on the website.

"Wharton has helped me develop a leadership tool kit, helped me figure out how I relate to people and get things done," writes Ofori, who describes his typical day starting with a phone call to his mother and ending with a phone call to his girlfriend.

Russell says she placed Ofori's name and photo on www.uvavictimsofrape.com several years ago after learning about the second case. She says she expected a cease and desist letter, or some threat of legal action, but has received none, although her website is the fourth item that appears on a recent Google search of his name.

"What does that tell you?" she asks, noting that Ofori offered Kathryn a $10,000 settlement when she sued him. Kathryn declined his money.

"It was insulting," says Kathryn.

Hook legal analyst David Heilberg says the placement of Ofori's name and likeness certainly could prompt a civil suit for libel, but it would also invite further public scrutiny of incidents Ofori might prefer not to revisit.

"The truth," notes Heilberg, "is a valid defense."

Wharton administration says they didn't know about the allegations against him during his time at UVA.

"We of course would take seriously any disclosed felony conviction or suspension from an academic institution and would consider them as part of our admissions process," says Wharton spokesperson Malini Doddamani.

Of course, there wasn't any conviction or suspension– but Susan believes a proposed state law she helped inspire will ensure more frequent prosecution of rapes in the future.

Taking the fight to Richmond
Also known as Kathryn's Law, in honor of Kathyrn Russell, HB2490 is a "victims' law," says Susan Russell, who found a sponsor for the bill in Delegate Paula Miller (D-Norfolk). The early version of the bill called for campus police departments to hand over the lead in rape and murder investigations to local departments. If it didn't win fans among University officials, it did find support from a variety of victims and their families who believe there is an inherent conflict of interest when campus police investigate such cases.

"They report to the school administration," says Russell of campus cops, "and the administrations have a vested interest in keeping crime stats low in order to attract the best new students."

Statistics from the Virginia Crime Commission show that of 28 sexual assaults reported to campus police in 2010, not one resulted in an arrest.

"I'd tell women who've been raped to go straight to local authorities and stay away from campus police," says Kathryn. "Those numbers tell the story."

Last February, the bill was passed over by the Militia, Police and Public Safety committee and sent to the Virginia Crime Commission for review. That review took place at hearings this fall, when victims and police representatives offered their testimony.

"We very strongly feel that this bill should pass and be applied nationally," says Gil Harrington, mother of Morgan Harrington, who disappeared after attending a Metallica concert in October 2009 and whose remains were found on an Albemarle County farm three months later. In addition to avoiding any conflict of interest, Harrington says, local police departments have access to greater resources necessary for fully investigating felony crimes.

Another victim of sexual assault at UVA also voiced her support for the bill.

"Perhaps, as a nation, we are ready to admit that self-policing by colleges and Universities simply does not work in cases of sexual assault, dating violence and stalking," says Liz Seccuro, who found justice for her 1984 sexual assault at UVA more than two decades after it occurred, after her assailant sent her a letter of apology as part of a 12-step program.

On the recommendation of Security on Campus, a nonprofit campus safety organization, the language of the bill was revised to require collaboration between local and campus police departments.

Furthermore, the revised bill would require felony crimes on campus be reported to the Commonwealth's Attorney within 24 hours.

That piece is "critical," says sponsor Delegate Miller, who says the bill "has the potential for being a great victory for everyone– local law enforcement, campus police, and anyone who finds themselves in a situation like Kathryn's."

As the Hook went to press on Tuesday, December 6, however, the Crime Commission endorsed only a portion of Kathryn's Law, requiring campus and local police departments to enter into voluntary "mutual aid agreements" in which each would provide support and resources to the other if asked. The Commission voted down the portion of the bill most important to Susan Russell: the requirement that campus police report felonies to the Commonwealth's Attorney. Russell expressed surprise the Commission members rejected it, even after hearing testimony in support of that portion of the bill from Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford. Lunsford could not be reached by presstime.

"I'm going to try to stay optimistic," says Russell, who says she wishes more college students would join her fight and expresses disappointment that more don't report their sexual assaulters.

 "Until women learn that silence breeds sexual assault," she says, "it will never be stopped."

While Russell says she'll find great satisfaction if the legislation becomes law, she knows it won't accomplish the one thing that drove her to become an activist in the first place.

"I'd like someone to redo her investigation," she says of Kathryn's assault, noting that there is no statute of limitations on felony crimes. "I'd like someone to acknowledge that what he did to her that night was a crime."

Attached Documents: 

27 comments

Three words: "this is rape" is all that should need to be uttered. ANYTHING sexual that goes on 5 seconds after those words are uttered should be a felony sexual assault. Period, end of story. If you put that into the law then these frat boys will know they have no way out if their is a witness a recording, a lie detector, and over half the problems will be solved. Then we can work on the other half.

Don't, no, stop, is just negotiation to alot of these jerks. They need clear concise concrete statements and concrete punishments. The females need to step up their game and defend themselves too. They need to get up and leave and shout it to the first person they see. They need to call 911 and treat it like the criminal matter that it is. There are too many guys who think that it is not rape if the girl tries to dial it back and redraw the boundary or gives an excuse instead of a NO. Calling 911 will be tough at first but it will wise up a lot of guys who are miseducated.

UVA should have a 24 hour rape crisis hot line and have a rep meet them at the Hospital for a personal private exam in a special room where the victim feels safe.

When this problem is taken seriously 90% of it will go away and we can then focus on how to deal with the last 10% to hopeful;ly get as close to zero as possible.

I am sorry to say it but if someone has an opportunity to shout to someone knocking on the door or run away between incidents, I would be reluctant as a prosecutor to go forward also. Especailly where the assailant is a "friend" and not a stranger wih a weapon. It is too late for this girl, but it is not toomlate to educate the girls there now. Make a stand and make it loud and clear and things will change.

"To kill a Mockingbird".....

Mutual aid agreements between campus police and local police is not enough. Help Delegate Miller get the Kathryn's Law, HB2490 is a "victims' law," passed in honor of all students who have been victimized.

Susan and Kathryn Russell's story is both sad and inspiring and they both deserve much praise for their courage. This country has come a long way when it comes to sexual assaults of women, but obviously not far enough. Women like these are what gives hope for further progress.

Of course, the country is even worse off when it comes to sexual assaults of children, as the recent Penn State case(s) aptly show. In these cases too it is often the mother of the of the victim that advocates for their child in a system ill-equipped to deal with these cases. Too often it is an uphill struggle as believing that a man has raped a child is unthinkable for many people. But none would disagree that it happens all the time.

As in the Penn State case, when the truth comes out about these child sexual assault cases, it is often shocking the lengths people went to deny the truth. Woe to those that end up siding with the rapist. Such a thing is unforgivable.

Curtis - page on Penn state is being diverted. This just started happening in the last two hours....

www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/student-life/curtis-ofori.cfm it goes to http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/index.cfm.

I guess Penn State is trying to avoid more bad press.

@Anonymous: It's UPENN, not Penn State. But, yes, you are correct--Penn removed the link to Curtis Ofori

Today's (Dec 8) shooting at VA Tech is another example of why HB2490 should be law. VA Tech officials contacted the State Police to assist, which was the right thing to do. Yet the VA Tech police force spent many hours this summer fighting the passage of HB2490. How ironic that they did exactly what Mrs Russell has been pressing for universities to do - to collaborate with local and/or state police whenever a felony crime occurs on a campus. What they did today was right and shame on them for spending so much time fighting against the very protocol they used today.

Google has cached the U. Penn page.

U. Penn's webserver is returning the following headers in response to a request for that page:

HTTP/1.1 302 Moved Temporarily
Pragma: no-cache
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Location: http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/mba/index.cfm
Server: Microsoft-IIS/7.5
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
Cache-Control: no-cache
Date: Fri, 09 Dec 2011 02:39:35 GMT
Connection: keep-alive

Hope someone made a copy of that page before it was removed.

Bill, while your advice might be wise in some situations, it reads as part of a culture that continues to shift responsibility over to women to prevent rape from happening to them, instead of keeping the responsibility where it should be -- with the perpetrators of sexual assault and rape. Trying to shift the standard will only end up hurting women and girls who can only manage to say "no,"and "stop" when they are being assaulted. There are plenty of women and girls who are in very real (and often justified) fear in these situations, who honestly believe or are threatened with violence, even in acquaintance situations, if they were to scream or call for help. Easy to suggest such a course of action, difficult to do -- if you've never been in that kind of situation, you may not realize just how difficult it is.

Let's educate women on how to protect themselves, yes, but let's not mix messages and also suggest to perpetrators that unless they hear "rape," whatever they are doing is ok. The point is "stop raping people," not "women, you're not stopping people from raping you well enough."

26 world,

I beg to differ. First, I have no problem with castrating any rapist. My point was very specific, they need to pass a law thast says if a woman utters "this is rape" all physical contact must stop within 5 seconds. If she does that then by default it is a defined felony assault and there is no excuse acceptable. the guy cannot say .. "well she said that but then she......" It would be inaddmissable. Period. You could even put a 24 hour "no contact" clause right into the law so that if there was a misunderstanding the woman could not be blamed. it puts ALL of the reponsibility on the male. I also said that they need a 24 hour hotline , trained personrll on call and a special exam room AWAY from other people so that they don't even need to go to the ER they get discreetly shuttled in through a separate entrance. I am all for all of that but women need to come forward. they need to stand up and shout it to the rooftops and not take no for an answer. If UVA wants to hide it then speak up. Go to the police, go to the press,
I understand it is hard and emotionally draining but it needs to be done.

I don't care whos "responsibility" it is or whether it is "fair" or not. Women need to speak up, take precautions, and makes as much noise as they can. Help society help you. It is not too much to ask.

so this cover story is about the mother of an alleged rape victim from UVA creating a website stating that UVA doesn't acknowledge rape? find a major university that does acknowledge it, not to mention raise your freakin' kids not to be rapists

@Bill,

And so what will happen when you pass that law is that you will have women who are raped who, in that moment, do not utter "this is rape," and whose case you just made that much harder if not impossible to prove, as defense will say "you knew if you said 'this is rape' he would know to stop, and you didn't, so..." It's not "responsibility" -- it's responsibility. Our social, law enforcement and court culture do not make it easy for women to help society to help them. What we need is a culture shift, if that's not too much to ask, either.

We're not that far apart on viewpoint, I promise you -- I'm just emphasizing that too often the onus is placed on women to do the work that should not be theirs to do. I also think your legal solution is putting a Band-Aid on a cancer, when we need to treat the cancer. Agreed about ER policies and easier access to good reporting and support structures, though.

What this article really illustrates--like dozens of similar cases before it--is that colleges (so called halls of enlightenment and higher education) are as power and money hungry as the greedy businesses and politicians they so often criticize. These "liberal thinkers" do not care about the victim, unless it is beneficial to the university to do so (e.g., Daisy Lundy).

The missteps in the treatment of this rape victim were many, and don't think the DA's office is not influenced by the cost of having to drag precious UVa through a trial when they decide whether or not to prosecute.

It is pathetic that the so-called intellectuals at these institutions need laws made to force them to do what it right.

Should schools provide better assistance to victims of rape? Absolutely. Should the standard of evidence be reduced? No, absolutely not.

What good reason could there be for reducing the standard of evidence in any case? The standard of evidence is intended to protect the innocent, even at the cost of sometimes allowing guilty people to avoid punishment. If we are going to reduce the standard of evidence, then we are going to increase the chance that an innocent man (because women are rarely accused of rape) will be found guilty. The only possible way for the standard of evidence to be reduced is if the severity of the punishment for rape is also reduced -- yet in these comments we have people talking about castration as a punishment.

Sorry, but these arguments about women being unable to speak up because they are traumatized are little more than an attempt to appeal to our emotions and shut down rational thought. Rape is a terrible crime, and the perpetrator deserves a terrible punishment -- that is why we need to make sure we do not punish the wrong man. If a case lies in a gray area, if there are questions as to whether or not it was rape, then the solution is not to just assume that the accused is guilty, it is to fall back on the presumption of innocence. If we were talking about cases of murder, no reasonable would say "let's assume the accused is guilty if there is doubt about the evidence!" What makes rape so special that we should throw away the entire philosophy behind our justice system?

Yes, the local police should be the ones handling rape accusations in all cases. Let justice be served by the actual justice system, with its well established procedures, statutes of limitations, and presumption of innocence. Stop appealing to emotions and start appealing to logic and reason.

@anonymous -- do you understand the levels of "Standard of Proof" for a guilty finding in a student sexual assault board? The Dept of Education established the Standard of Proof in a student tribunal to be "preponderence of evidence" - the same standard that would be used in a civil court trial for a finding of guilt - in the federal law known as Title IX. In April 2011, VP Biden sent a "Dear Colleague" letter to all universities telling them to comply with Title IX or else risk losing federal funding for student aid. In July, UVA came into compliance with federal law and set the standard of proof to "preponderence of evidence".

No one was appealing to emotion to reduce the standard of proof. They just wanted the university to be compliant with federal law. All the SABs at UVA until 2011 were non-compliant with federal law. it sounds to me that these women have a great class action suit case against the university.

I'm not buying this girl's story at all.

It states she was intoxicated and that is enough to believe she made a decision she regretted and tried to cover it up by claiming rape. This happens way too often and the people that claim these things should be sent to jail.

@Reallynow: I should hope this never happens to anyone you love. Rape is not about a miscommunication between 2 kids. The young man was not intoxicated and therefore was in complete control of his actions. His actions were not only reprehensible, they were illegal. Had the police done a complete and thorough investigation the truth would have emerged. But because the police took the attitude you display (read the Richmond Times Dispatch article on Nov 15th) the young man was not charged. And so he did it again -- now who do you say is the criminal? While most men are NOT rapists, there are a few who are, and they need to be caught and punished and their deviant behavior needs to be corrected. By the way, I agree - false accusations of rape should be prosecuted. That way we can eliminate that BS angle most people use to debate this most serious topic.

This story had me thinking of that scene in "Observe and Report" that involved a drunk passed out woman. But on another note, reading the cached page from Wharton where the young man spoke of coming to Wharton expecting to be humbled and being made more "self reflective". That's kinda funny, but of course one expects writing of that sort to be mostly BS..
I'm sure the young woman felt used and degraded after her experience, but let's not make too much of a big deal about it. After all, her injuries were all psychic and the world is replete with emotionally traumatic experiences, but it's also replete with things like civilians being massacred en-masse in the streets of Syria or other places. So in the panoply of wrongs this is truly small potatoes. As the saying goes: "it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick".
This mother should move on and so should her daughter. A nice real world existential threat like stage 3 breast cancer would be perspective refining and that could happen over night. Be glad you don't have to deal with something like that.

@Angel Eyes: You must have skimmed the story and not read it. Or maybe you are one of the Deans - they also tell UVA women who report a rape to "move on" rather than fulfill their paid duties as stewards of the school and prosecute rapes as a crime. The issue is bigger than the act of rape - it's about how the university failed at every step of the way to help this woman. She told the nurse it was not consensual and the nurse did nothing. It was about the failure of a SANE nurse to respond to the ER. It was about a Sexual Assault Board finding of guilty and the perp remaining on campus. It's about a systemic failure at every junction - and the reason we know that the system failed is that these two were willing to share their experience. Just like Stage 3 breast cancer, what happened was wrong and life altering.

But here's a question, how many of these perps are tested for AIDS or HIV? Since they like to have sex with multiple partners, how come they are not tested for diseases? They are careless and could be spreaders of multiple diseases - and that, in some states, is also a felony crime.

Recently, U. Va president Theresa Sullivan commented on the Sandusky scandal in Pa. She should be careful not to cast stones in a glass house. U.Va has an established history of this type of behavior. From Liz Seccuro's rape back in 84 to the shennanigans of U. Va's Ralph Sampson from 79-83. You know, the crap everybody knew about but no one dared to speak of out loud for fear of rocking the basketball boat. Truth is, for whatever reason, this area is not showing a good record for its treatment of females. From the murders of Paula Jean Chandler and Katie Worsky to Liz Seccuro Morgan Harrington, and this Russel incident to the recent conviction, years after the fact, of Eric Abshire for the murder of his wife. I'll wager that if the right catalyst, such as Sandusky in Pa, were to occur, there would be many a skeleton to fall out of Mr. Jefferson's University closet. But hey, as long as this community tries to spin its image as a town lost in time, and everybody is safe as Mayberry, then this behavior and the victim count will continue. It's bad for business if daddy understands that he's paying big money for his little princess to become a possible victim. In the end, its not about student safety, but it's about the money. Sadly, our daughters pay the price for the silence of the Bejamin's.

Does anyone at Wharton know about this guy?

Lots of Kool-Aid drinking around here! Afraid Terry Sullivan has taken some giant gulps.

Had high hopes for her, but don't think they're going to pan out. She has been "handled" by Casteen's former right-hand men during her initial months on the job, and all she knew before she got here was the public image UVa protects at ANY cost.

It will take something Sandusyesque to break through the carefully crafted UVa facade and expose the ugly underbelly.

Here's the question I want answered: What is Denise Lunsford doing about prosecuting this guy? Blaming the girl for not having a PERK test when there's a hundred other pieces of evidence to use? Claude Worrell and Tim Longo bent over backwards to help Liz Seccuro - why isn't anyone helping this girl?

A friend suggested I share this with your readers -- and ask if this fraternity has a chapter at UVA:

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20111213/NEWS02/111213025/UVM-suspends-fraternity-after-survey-asks-members-who-they-want-rape?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

And now that a week has past, what has the school, particularly the police and the President's office, released in a public statement about this case? Or are they waiting for another woman to come forward and name this guy in another case?

Just days after this story ran, I heard from a UVA parent. She wrote and said that her daughter's friend had been assaulted, but was dissuaded from going forth with any charges by the Dean she reported the assault to. However, after reading our story, the young woman is ready to press charges. I applaud her bravery and offer her any support I can give as she reports this crime.

I am most concerned to hear that, after seven years of dialogue and reading about UVA's new sexual assault program, in 2011 women are still being told by the Deans to move on and forget it happened. Is this still the unspoken policy at UVA despite the recent comments made by President Sullivan to use a "mother's eyes and ears" whenever a student is assaulted? I should hope not.

To President Sullivan: There are quite a few women on your campus who continue to have the same experience as my daughter. I am publicly asking you to fire all staff members who cover up sexual assault on your campus.When an institution of higher education engages in a pattern to silence reports of sexual abuse or discrimination, or to act passively in their occurrences, they are engaging in an act of complicity with the perpetrators.

To the UVA Women: Do not be afraid to come forward and report your crime. My advice is to notify President Sullivan via email to document that the school has been advised that a crime was committed. Then go directly to the local police and file a report.