CHAPEL HILL — Katherine* was raped her freshman year at UNC Chapel Hill in February 2014.
“It didn’t start out not consensual, but eventually he just wouldn’t listen to me and he wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Katherine said. “I didn’t really let that register that it was an assault until I was laying in bed in pain. I was really ashamed of myself. I think that’s the hardest thing that people like me go through is all of a sudden you don’t know who you are anymore.”
Katherine reported her assault after visiting a doctor’s office a month later for scarring and for depression. She chose not to seek legal action and not to name her assailant.
“I never told anyone who it was because he was a UNC football player and I didn’t think the school would support me,” Katherine said.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 20 percent of female college student victims report incidents to law enforcement.
In September, Delaney Robinson, a sophomore at UNC Chapel Hill, held a press conference accusing the university of mishandling her alleged rape. She told the media she was assaulted and raped by junior Allen Artis, a UNC football player, on Feb. 14. Robinson reported the assault, and the UNC Chapel Hill Department of Public Safety and the university’s Title IX office opened an investigation. Artis was suspended indefinitely from the UNC football team after his arrest.
Robinson said DPS treated her “like a suspect.”
“Rather than accusing him of anything, the investigators spoke to him with a tone of comradery,” Robinson said. “They provided reassurances to him when he became upset. They even laughed with him when he told them how many girls’ phone numbers he had managed to get on the same night he raped me. They told him, ‘Don’t sweat it, just keep on living your life and playing football.'”
Given the university’s reaction to her case, Robinson wondered if there could be others with similar cases who were fearful to come forward to report their assault.
“This man raped me and the police told him not to sweat it,” Robinson said. “How can this happen? Where’s the protection for students? Why does the university not care that this rapist is free and could possibly harm another student?
“And if this happened to me, who else has been hurt and been too scared to come forward? And what other cases are being swept under the rug by the university?”
On Nov. 21, The Daily Tar Heel UNC Chapel Hill’s student newspaper filed a North Carolina Public Records request in Wake County Superior Court asking the school to release disciplinary records for students accused of sexual assault. The Daily Tar Heel was joined in the lawsuit by Capitol Broadcasting Company, The Charlotte Observer and the Durham Herald-Sun.
The university has faced several cases in recent years in which students have claimed the school did not address their sexual assaults appropriately. In 2013, five students submitted a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education saying UNC Chapel Hill violated the rights of sexual assault survivors and created a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assaults.
Two students who submitted a complaint to the Department of Education were Annie Clark and Andrea Pino. They founded End Rape on Campus (EROC) in the summer of 2013, an organization that connects survivors, speaks out about colleges’ lack of response and holds the schools accountable to laws.
“It doesn’t matter what happened,” Anna Voremberg, the managing director of EROC, said. “What matters is the school is obligated to certain things under Title IX, so whether someone exposed themselves to you or you were raped, it doesn’t matter. The school has an obligation, and we will help them hold that school accountable.”
Robinson’s attorney, Denise Branch, noted Robinson cooperated with the Title IX office on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus.
“As you all know, that office has been highly touted by the administration of the university of being new and improved,” Branch said. “Since Delaney has reported this rape the university has done nothing.”
Katherine said when she reported her assault, the university was currently changing their procedure of how they handled sexual assault cases.
“People didn’t really know what to do,” Katherine said. “I got the same brochure six times. I didn’t have my hand held as I went through the process. It was kind of like, ‘Call this person, call that person, email this person.’ It wasn’t like a ‘I’ll take care of this with you.'”
UNC Chapel Hill’s Title IX office hired Christi Hurt in May 2013 as the interim coordinator. She left in January 2014. Katie Nolan has been serving as the interim Title IX compliance coordinator since Nov. 2014. Nolan led Robinson’s investigation.
According to a letter from Branch to UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt, Nolan told Robinson her case would be resolved in approximately 90 days as of March 9. Robinson received multiple notices of delays, concluding in July 18 when Robinson was told the office could not come to a final decision unless they received her blood alcohol content from the State Bureau of Investigation from her rape kit that was collected. Title IX regulations state alcohol consumption is not a consideration for outcome of an investigation.
Robinson admitted she was drinking the night of her assault.
“Yes, I was drinking that night on Valentine’s Day,” Robinson said. “I’m underage, and I take responsibility for that. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to violate me. I did not deserve to be raped.”
Katherine said she was not drinking the day she was raped, and she calls herself “lucky.”
“The thing is I’m lucky in that since I was sober people take me more seriously, but it’s really disappointing when other people aren’t taken as seriously for something just as horrible of an offense because they were intoxicated,” Katherine said. “I think that’s something that I’ve had to deal with growing up or going through this experience, seeing the news and stuff like that being that person and having a part of yourself taken away from you and not even remembering it would be horrific. And not having anyone believe you because you happened to be drunk.”
Nolan and the Title IX office refused to comment, and the UNC Chapel Hill Athletic Department, while referencing past statements on charges against Artis, declined an interview. Robinson has not filed a complaint to the Department of Education Title IX office.
The case against Artis is set to go to trial Dec. 5 on two misdemeanor charges.
* Name has been changed.