I was invited to write an article for the Huffington Post. I strongly feel this idea would be the first step to drastically improving college administrators’ incentive to prioritize student protection from sexual violence.
I was invited to write an article for the Huffington Post. I strongly feel this idea would be the first step to drastically improving college administrators’ incentive to prioritize student protection from sexual violence.
USC likes to pretend it doesn’t have a problem. It likes to pretend that its educational environment is not overtly hostile toward women.
I recently got the contents of an old laptop uploaded to a new one. These are photographs I took my freshman year at the University. As a freshman, I was let into frat houses without being carded, plied with alcohol, rufied, and witnessed sexual assault being perpetrated against female peers by fraternity members on a constant basis. When that sort of behavior is so rampant, so intrinsic to a school’s social culture, constant exposure to such demeaning stuff is dangerously desensitizing.
And I could very well expect someone to try to make the argument that if these women all flock to these places in such high numbers, it’s their choice and their assumption of the risk. But these “women” are often teenagers, 17- and 18- and 19-year-olds, who don’t know what they’re signing up for, are not being carded or monitored, and are wandering back to freshmen dorms wobbling in their spike heels.
At USC, you are actively stigmatized if you do not go out on Thursday, and your ability to matriculate socially is significantly hampered.
IMAGE NO. 1
Below, you can see alcohol being passed around like candy. This was my first exposure to the USC party scene. A frat hired a Hummer limo and drove us to West Hollywood, where, once it was explained we were USC students, we were let into the club Hwood without IDs.
IMAGE NO. 2
Below you can see a photographic example of the sort of guests these frat parties draw. Packs of women. Packed together. (And, yes, that is me, in the bottom left corner, looking claustrophobic and annoyed.)
IMAGE NO. 3
This is another freshman-year party. The theme was blacklight. This is what my friend chose to write on her body. (It’s blurry, but it says “LET’S GET DRUNK!”)
IMAGE NO. 4
Pink polka-dot shot cups for the ladies. So romantic and feminist.
IMAGE NO. 5
A prime example of the kind of “partying” taking place every week on the USC Greek Row. Females are whisked into these places, poured extremely stiff mixed drinks at the frat bars, end up getting sloshed out of their minds and grinding up against random crotches … while owner of said crotch texts.
IMAGE NO. 6
This was an accidental photo, which I was going to delete when I uploaded the nights’ pics to my computer, until I took a second look. Spilled beer, puke and mud on the linoleum floor. Guy in t-shirt bracing up clearly incapacitated girl in slinky black dress so short her ass hangs out while he grinds on her. (I still wonder: Is the dress really that short, or did the guy hike it up himself, and she’s just so far-gone drunk she can’t do a thing about it? What’s even worse for me is seeing his thumb sticking out in front of her, his hand obviously between her thighs, which makes me think this is a photo of a penetrative assault — “digital rape” — in progress.) Anyway, hey! Can you spot the second exposed rear end of a USC student in this photo?
IMAGE NO. 7
More exposed ass-cheek. This girl was so drunk and unsteady, she went outside and put her head against the fence before some dude came and found her and escorted her back to the party.
IMAGE NO. 8
This image needs no introduction, methinks.
IMAGE NO. 9
Every girl in this photograph is a freshman.
IMAGE NO. 10
This one obviously isn’t party-related, but it’s one of my favorites from freshman year. These lovely ladies were spray-painted on the staircase of my freshman dorm. The cigarette butts are an especially classy touch, in my humble opinion.
To paraphrase USC in recent months: ”We don’t have a hostile learning environment. We don’t discriminate based on gender.”
It’s all well and good, for example, to say you’re not racist, but it doesn’t actually mean anything if you laugh at racist jokes or, I don’t know, join the Ku Klux Klan.
Every week, underage girls walk the four blocks to Greek Row, passing a dozen or more yellow-jacketed campus security guards. They clack up the steps in their impossibly high heels, forming single-file lines to get into these frat houses. Later, they stumble out clearly intoxicated, falling on hands-and-knees in the street or puking into bushes. Or maybe hanging onto some random guy who escorts them back to his room instead of campus. Nobody does anything.
My second semester, I was assaulted by an ex in a parking lot behind one of these frats. He shoved me up against the hood of an Escalade and started painfully groping my breasts, even pulling my strapless bra off and hiking my shirt up. When I protested, he tugged on my earrings and hair and bent me back over the hood even harder. He started to jerk off, and then reached down my jeans and started violently fingering me. That’s when I realized another couple had come into the lot to make out, and I started screaming. I grabbed my bra and walked away, kind of stupefied. Instead of walking toward home, I walked two blocks the opposite direction (so my ex wouldn’t follow me to where I lived). I passed a USC security guard. He was talking to some kid with a bike. I was carrying my bra in one hand, and the guard asked, “Are you okay?” I said, “I was just sexually assaulted,” and kept walking. He didn’t come after me. He didn’t do anything.
Nobody does anything.
I’m gonna throw this idea out there, and y’all should let me know what you think of it.
Basically, I’ve been talking about Title IX a lot for several weeks now. It’s this pretty awesome amendment to the Civil Rights Act that was passed in 1972 and exists to protect everyone who is not a straight male — including women (a.k.a. 50% of the population) and gays and lesbians and transpeople.
Title IX has been utilized since its passing into law to protect female athletes, and force colleges to provide female athletes with the same facilities as male athletes. But law is kind of funny in that it’s usually worded rather ambiguously, and then a lawyer one day will get a client who has a certain compelling claim that maybe hasn’t been pursued legally up to that point (say, being black and being forced to move to the back of the bus to make room for white people). And the lawyer will go searching through “case law” — the history of cases that are reprinted in those huge, dusty-smelling legal books that fill law libraries across the country — and the lawyer will stumble onto something vague-sounding that has been used to protect, say, athletes but that actually totally fucking applies to the situation at hand.
Title IX is like that. If you look it up on Wikipedia, it has this huge “history” section that shows how the vague wording of the original amendment has been applied to athletes’ rights. Imma let you look it up for yourself. Indulge me here as I replace the word “athlete” and any reference to “sports facilities” to more fundamental rights that are overlooked by colleges, including my own, on a daily basis, but that are indeed guaranteed by Title IX:
You might be thinking, “Okay, but my college doesn’t discriminate against women who apply for scholarships or jobs or whatever. We focus on merit. I don’t think my college is in violation.”
Cool. Your college realizes that if it denied women equal opportunity in highly-visible programs, it would be engaging in blatant misogyny. My question: Does your college go out of its way to protect you from sex-based or gender-based harassment or violence that would (and does), without question, affect your chance to perform to the best of your abilities?
That’s where a lot of people — students, lawyers, reporters, and school administrators — are starting to realize, “Oh … wait.” Because, for example, if you are female, there is a one-in-six chance you’re gonna get raped at your college. You are statistically more likely to be raped by choosing to attend college than if you didn’t pursue a degree at all. And expecting a woman to offer herself up on a platter draped with silk and scattered with rose petals and wafting incense and whatever — expecting a woman to sign up to engage in a lottery where she is likely to be sexually violated before she can earn a degree and compete to get a job and grow up to live in an apartment or a house instead of a cardboard box in an alley somewhere — this risk is directly addressed by Title IX, which forces schools to do their utmost to provide equal opportunity based on gender, and schools aren’t doing it.
That is a crime. I’m not hyperbolizing. It’s a violation of federal law. It’s just as much a crime as punching someone in the face for being black or being Muslim. On Wednesday I was invited to attend a press conference in New York City with my friend Alexa — who was also marginalized by our university after coming forward, seeking and receiving zero help for a sex crime committed against her. We shared our stories with reporters from The Los Angeles Times and the Huffington Post. We got to stand beside women (most of them victims) from across the country who witnessed and experienced the same criminal violations of Title IX occurring at colleges such as Dartmouth, Swarthmore, Berkeley. We all announced that we’d filed Title IX complaints against our respective schools.
Here’s the interesting part: these Title IX complaints were all filed at schools who promised — in their school policy or their Student Handbook or something similar — to, for example, punish rapists and then didn’t, so these schools are not only in violation of Title IX, but are in violation of simple contract law.
It’s a simple matter of advertising something — let’s pretend it’s a used car, but a nice one, that within the vicinity of $25,000. This sales clerk shows it off to you, the potential customer, telling you it’s never been in an accident, its engine purrs, it’ll get you across the country and back twenty times over. Impressed, you pay $25,000 for the car, drive it out-of-state … and it breaks down on you in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The sleazy used car salesman who sold that car just stole $25,000 from you because he sold you a piece of crap.
We all know that’s a crime. It’s “false advertising,” and it’s a violation of contract law. When you buy something, you enter into a basic contract: ”You provide me an item, and I exchange something of mine that has equal value to that item.”
It’s kind of the same thing if a school advertises that it’s safe and has no rapists but in the event it finds out it has a rapist it will have “zero tolerance” for the rapist’s behavior — and so you accept admission to go there, and you fork over $25,000 in tuition, and then you show up and you’re raped and you report the rape and the school forces you to attend classes for four years with your rapist.
Schools are stealing tuition from their students. Not just the victimized students. By not expelling rapists, schools are exposing the rest of the student body to an unsafe environment. And that unsafe environment doesn’t match up with the “safe” environment those students were promised when they paid their tuition.
So — if, like me, you are kind of pissed off that you accrued hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to attend a school that behaves like a sleazy car salesman who sells you a clunker instead of a functioning automobile, you can do something about it.
First, Google the following:
After that, if you’re still pissed off, file action — maybe a class action? — and get your money back for a shoddy deal.
Protect us from those who disregard us, who do not care whether they harm us.
Even families must shun members who abuse.
You are the head of this Trojan family. Protect your children as a parent must.
. . . . . .
The University of Southern California
Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards
Student Union 206
Los Angeles, CA 90089
To Whom It May Concern:
Enclosed herewith is my appeal from the 9 May 2013 “findings” of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards panelists Lindsey Goldstein and Raquel Torres-Retana.
The attached will document in detail the adjudicators’ multiple violations of federal and University policy, together with the affronts Ms. Reed was forced to endure throughout this process, which betray the ignorance, incompetence and bias of the adjudicators and consequently render any “findings” of the adjudicators null and void.
Because (1) the adjudicatory panel committed multiple federal civil rights violations during the course of the adjudication; (2) the adjudicatory panel engaged in a documented pattern of bias, ignorance and deliberate indifference during the adjudication; (3) the full body of evidence was not factored into a logical decision and further is not even represented in the “letter of findings” submitted by the adjudicatory body; (4) the adjudicators considered as dispositive a number of “facts” that the University’s own standards and procedures disallow as part of an adjudication on sexual assault; and (5) the findings made by the panel are unsupported by the evidence, Reed hereby formally demands that this investigation be remanded to its beginning stages with a panel of adjudicators who are free from bias, ignorance and misogyny.
. . . . . .
The adjudication of Ms. Reed’s sexual misconduct report against accused Andrew Paul Bean was prejudicially mishandled over a period of six months. The actions of adjudicators Raquel Torres-Retana and Lindsey Goldstein were negligent to a degree of deliberate indifference to Reed’s rights and Reed’s suffering, and further, were in direct violation of national standards set forth by both Title IX and the Obama Administration’s 2011 and 2013 “Dear Colleague” letters, as well as the University of Southern California’s own policy, which exists as a contractually-founded special duty of care between the institution and its students (Peterson v. San Francisco Community College District, 39 Cal.3d 799 (1984); Duarte v. State, 84 Cal.App.3d 729 (1978); Miller v. State New York, 62 N.Y.2d 506 (1984)). Further, the decision was predicated upon grossly misstated reports of the evidence submitted to the adjudicators, which misstatements serve as further evidence of bias, indifference, hostility, and disparate treatment of the parties. As a result, the University is obliged to set aside the “findings” of Goldstein and Torres-Retana in their entirety and to initiate a hearing de novo of Reed’s grievance against Andrew (“Andy”) Bean.
VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL POLICIES AND STANDARDS
Torres-Retana and Goldstein committed numerous violations of laws set forth by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 2010, 2011 and 2013 “Dear Colleague” letters, and the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, including, but not limited to the following:
A. The Victim Reed Was Not Afforded the Same Treatment as the Accused
Torres-Retana and Goldstein failed to accord the same treatment to both the accused and complainant in violation of the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 “prompt and equitable” provision that schools must treat the accused and complainant equally and provide equal rights to both. See, generally, “Dear Colleague” letter of April 4, 2011, pp. 11-12, specifying “the parties must have an equal opportunity to present relevant witnesses and other evidence;” “[t]he complainant and the alleged perpetrator must be afforded similar and timely access to any information that will be used at the hearing;” “a school should not allow the alleged perpetrator to review the complainant’s statement without also allowing the complainant to review the alleged perpetrator’s statement;” “[i]f a school chooses to allow the parties to have their lawyers participate in the proceedings, it must do so equally for both parties.”
1. In this adjudication, from the beginning to the end, Reed was not afforded the same rights as the accused. At the inception of the case, SJACS made only a cursory effort to contact Ms. Reed by sending two emails to her university-assigned email address even though Reed had alerted DPS that she would be leaving town and had provided DPS (and thus SJACS) with alternate means of contact; SJACS knew or should have known that Reed had withdrawn from school during that semester for medical reasons and therefore had no reason to be regularly checking her University email address. When Reed learned by accidental means that an SJACS investigation had likely been opened because of her complaint to DPS, she immediately contacted SJACS, only to be informed that if SJACS had not heard from her that same day, her adjudication would have “move[d] forward without [her] input.” Declaration of Appellant Aisling Tucker Moore Reed (“Reed Decl.”), para. 2.
2. Thereafter, the SJACS adjudicators repeatedly emphasized to Reed that the accused, Bean, would be given full access to everything Reed submitted to that office as evidence in support of her complaint, but failed and refused to provide her the same access to materials and statements supplied by the accused and his witnesses. Reed Decl., para. 3; Declaration of Kelly Moore (“Moore Decl.”), para. 2. Indeed, Reed only learned of several material allegations made by the accused when she read them for the first time in the “findings” contained in the final decision rendered by SJACS — in other words, Reed was never given the opportunity to refute a number of allegations that were considered by the adjudicators to be so significant that these allegations were included in their final summary of the case.
3. During the adjudication, an advocate of Reed’s challenged this one-sided sharing of testimony and evidence in an email to SJACS dated 4 March 2013, and attached hereto as Exhibit A. Moore Decl., para. 3. (Notably, although SJACS replied to the 4 March email with a promise to address Reed’s concerns, the concerns were not addressed in the email and were further not addressed in a meeting (a full two weeks later) specifically scheduled to focus on these concerns; this is further documented by a 28 March email from Reed to University staff member Danielle Lancon, attached hereto as Exhibit B.) Reed Decl., para. 3. Moore Decl., para. 4.
4. Also, although the accused in all SJACS proceedings are afforded the constant right to have an advisor present during all interviews by and conversations with the SJACS adjudicators (“A student who is named in a report of sexual misconduct against an individual is entitled to an adviser … The adviser may accompany the named student to all proceedings of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.”), Reed was specifically denied her right to have her choice of advocate present during a conversation with the adjudicators on 2 April 2013. Reed Decl., para 4; Declaration of Alexa Schwartz (“Schwartz Decl.”), unnumbered para. 1. The absence of Reed’s chosen advocate caused significant prejudice to Reed because during this interview, adjudicator Torres-Retana became hostile and abusive to Reed while Reed had no one present to witness this behavior or shelter Reed from its effects. Reed Decl., para 5.
This unequal treatment of the parties is by itself sufficient to warrant setting aside the decision of the adjudicators and granting Appellant Reed a hearing de novo.
B. The Investigation Was Conducted by Hostile Adjudicators
Torres-Retana and Goldstein further violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, in its requirement that a university provide an “adequate, reliable, impartial investigation” which requirement is further delineated in the “Dear Colleague” letter of April 4, 2011.
1. The adjudicators violated the “impartial investigation” requirement first by the abuse of Reed by Torres-Retana during the single interview conducted by the adjudicators when Reed had no advocate in the room to protect her. During the interview conducted on 2 April 2013, Reed was reduced to tears by Torres-Retana’s abusive treatment and disdain, and by Torres-Retana’s hostile invitation to Reed to “leave” before Reed was finished presenting her evidence. This behavior by Torres-Retana further violated federal law, specifically Title II’s requirements that special accommodations be afforded to students suffering known disabilities, as Torres-Retana was specifically aware that Reed was suffering from extreme depression and anxiety to the point of suicidal ideation. Reed Decl., paras. 5 and 6. Reed was visibly upset and weeping when she left the interview and immediately informed her excluded advocate about the harassment she had suffered during the interview. Schwartz Decl., unnumbered para. 2; Reed Decl., para. 5.
2. In addition, the adjudicators violated the “impartial investigation” requirement by failing to inform Reed of her right to seek removal and replacement of either adjudicator. Reed Decl., para. 6.
Because Torres-Retana exhibited clear hostility to Reed and because Reed was not informed of her right to remove Torres-Retana from the panel, Reed is for this reason also entitled to a hearing de novo.
C. The Adjudication Process Was Not “Fair and Unbiased”
The adjudicators also demonstrated bias in a number of ways, violating specific school policy as well as rendering the adjudication in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, requiring an “adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation”, as specified in the “Dear Colleague” letter of April 4, 2011, page 9.
1. Adjudicator Torres-Retana stated that the adjudicators knew that both parties were “good people,” and further, “that all our students are good people; that’s why they’re here.” Reed challenged this assertion as clear evidence of bias in an email sent to her advocate Danielle Lancon — a counselor provided by the Center for Women and Men — on 28 March 2013. She further challenged this assumption as bias in a letter supplied to SJACS on 2 April 2013, pointing out that the assumption that the accused is a “good person” predisposes the adjudicators to find that the accused acted from mistake or confusion instead of a premeditated intent to commit rape. Reed Decl., para. 5; Moore Decl. para. 5; Exh. C, copy of 1 April 2013 letter delivered to SJACS 2 April 2013.
2. The adjudicators consistently referred to the act complained-of as “sexual intercourse” even though Reed insisted that the action was not “intercourse” (implying a voluntary interchange), but “sexual penetration” without consent. The use of the word “intercourse” betrayed a predisposition to regard the act as non-violent in intent and effect, and the use of this word to describe the action is contrary to the University’s own practice in defining rape as a “sexual act, either attempted or completed, when vaginal, anal or oral penetration takes place without the consent of the person penetrated …” Indeed, Goldstein falsely states in her decision “They [accused and victim] agreed they had sexual intercourse.” Reed has never agreed and will never concede that she and her rapist had “sexual intercourse” on the morning of 4 December 2010. Goldstein’s disregard of Reed’s position on this point demonstrates bias.
3. Further evidence of the adjudicators’ bias and unfair treatment can be found in the adjudicators’ treatment of Reed’s witnesses. Reed supplied witness contact info on 1 February 2013, and again in March after the SJACS adjudicators reported the witnesses on Reed’s list were “not cooperating.” When Reed contacted the witnesses herself, each claimed they had not been contacted via email by SJACS (although some later did locate SJACS emails in their spam folders). SJACS never made any attempt to follow-up with these witnesses via the telephone numbers Reed had provided. Further, when SJACS scheduled meetings with witnesses, the meetings were scheduled weeks in advance, with no attempt on the part of the adjudicators to prevent the adjudication process from dragging out unduly long (a violation of federal law). In fact, because SJACS waited so long to schedule meetings with witnesses, a key witness to Reed’s testimony became unavailable due to family-related trauma, prejudicing findings in the accused’s favor.
Reed also discovered in early May 2013 that SJACS had never contacted certain witnesses at all. In addition, several witnesses were contacted in-bulk in early May, during the second-to-last week of the semester while students were readying for finals. (Reed Decl., para 7.) (Exh. D, Moore email to alert Goldstein of witness unavailability.)
Reed was alerted to further adjudicator bias when [REDACTED], one of Reed’s corroborative witnesses, texted Reed out of the blue to discuss how “weird” Murphy’s experience serving as Reed’s witness was. [REDACTED] explained via text that Torres-Retana and Goldstein informed [REDACTED]: “[W]e can’t tell you anything about what’s going on and we can’t ask you questions [s]o just tell us what you think we should know.” Additionally, [REDACTED] stated that the adjudicators “were barely listening or caring and didn’t even really write anything I said down.” (Exh. E, screenshots of [REDACTED] texts.)
Because the adjudicators were predisposed to regard the accused as “a good person” and to regard the rape as “sexual intercourse,” they were not capable of rendering an unbiased decision in this adjudication. Their bias was further demonstrated by their lackadaisical efforts to contact and interview Reed’s witnesses. The adjudicators’ bias and unfairness provides another ground under Federal statutes upon which Reed is entitled to a hearing de novo.
D. The Investigation Was Excessively Prolonged
In addition, the entire adjudication violated Reed’s right under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to a “prompt and equitable” adjudication because of the length of the adjudication. As explained in the Dear Colleague letter of 2011, pp. 12-13, schools must “designate and provide prompt time frames for the major stages of the complaint process”:
Grievance procedures should specify the time frame within which: (1) the school will conduct a full investigation of the complaint; (2) both parties receive a response regarding the outcome of the complaint; and (3) the parties may file an appeal, if applicable. Both parties should be given periodic status updates. Based on OCR experience, a typical investigation takes approximately 60 calendar days following receipt of the complaint.
In Reed’s case, no time frames were provided, vague updates were provided only when specifically requested by Reed, and the adjudication lasted 186 days, or more than three times the duration recommended by OCR. Reed Decl., para. 7.
The above-enumerated violations of Reed’s federal civil rights were prejudicial to her ability to present her case and to obtain a fair and unbiased hearing of her complaint against Andrew Paul Bean for rape. For this reason, the adjudicator’s decision must be set aside and Reed must be afforded a hearing de novo.
VIOLATIONS OF UNIVERSITY POLICIES AND STANDARDS
Torres-Retana and Goldstein also committed numerous violations of standards imposed by the University’s own policies and procedures, all and each of which entitled Appellant Reed to a hearing de novo.
A. The Victim Was Denied Her Choice of Advocate During a Critical Interview
In addition to the a fundamental right provided by federal law (the violation of which was cited hereinabove in section I, subsection B.1), the University’s own policy promises that a victim is entitled to have her (or his) choice of advocate present with her (or him) at every interview. This policy is apparent in the joint operation of two policy statements of the University:
1. “A student who is named in a report of sexual misconduct against an individual is entitled to an adviser… . The adviser may accompany the named student to all proceedings of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.”
2. “Students who are survivors of sexual misconduct or assault or attempted assault … are entitled to certain rights that include, but are not limited to, the following: The right to the same level of support at any proceeding of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards as is permitted to both the reporting student and the named student(s); and the right to be notified in a timely manner of the outcome of such proceeding.”
As detailed hereinabove, Reed was specifically denied her right to have her choice of advocate present during a conversation with the adjudicators on 2 April 2013. Reed Decl., para 4, 5 and 6; Schwartz Decl., unnumbered paragraph 1. This caused prejudice to Reed because during this interview, adjudicator Torres-Retana became hostile and abusive to Reed while Reed had no one present to witness this behavior or shelter Reed from its effects. Reed Decl., supra. For this reason also, Reed is entitled to a hearing de novo.
B. The Adjudicators Failed to Treat Reed at all Times with Dignity and Respect
The University’s policy further provides, first and foremost, as follows:
“Students who are survivors of sexual misconduct or assault or attempted assault … are entitled to certain rights that … include, but are not limited to, the following: The right to be treated with respect and dignity by university officials.”
Torres-Retana’s abuse and hostility towards Reed, who was known to be suffering severe depression, suicidal ideation and many other indicators of Rape Trauma Syndrome, violated University’s policy preserving to victims “[t]he right to be treated with respect and dignity by university officials.” For this reason also, Reed is entitled to a hearing de novo with different adjudicators.
C. The Adjudicators Ignored the University’s Definition of “Consent”
In the decision reached in this matter, the adjudicators ignored the University’s definition of “consent” in deeming the complained-of rape “consensual sexual intercourse.” As regards “consent”, the University specifically states as follows:
Consent is defined as positive cooperation. Consent is informed, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. When people consent to sexual activity, they will have indicated, verbally or otherwise, that they are participating willingly, freely and voluntarily.
With respect to the issue of consent, the decision notes that Reed asserted that she told the accused that the sexual penetration “hurt” and further notes — falsely — that Reed then asked for lubrication. Reed Decl., para. 8. The decision also notes that after the accused engaged in sexual penetration of Reed for some time, he asked her to change positions and she cooperated. The decision cites both of these behaviors — one partially accurate (that Reed changed positions when she was directed to) and one entirely inaccurate (that Reed asked for lubrication) — as evidence of consent, but the important detail to note about both of these “indicators of consent” is that they occurred substantially after sexual penetration commenced. They cannot be indicators of consent to penetration that already occurred.
If these behaviors are removed from the consideration of indicators of consent to the initial penetration, and even if the adjudicators entirely disregard Reed’s corroborated testimony that she begged Bean to stop, then the adjudicators are still left with no indicator of consent except silence, which, per University standards, “cannot be interpreted as consent.” Therefore, the conclusion that the sex was consensual violates University policy. For this gross error in the application of the University’s own explicit standards, Reed is also entitled to a hearing de novo.
D. The Adjudicators Improperly Ignored the University’s Policy on Intoxication
The University has a clear policy on sexual violations that occur while a victim is intoxicated. The University’s Policy and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault states as follows:
For the purposes of this policy, sexual misconduct is defined as any sexual act perpetrated upon a person … where the survivor has an impaired ability to give or withhold consent due to the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
The University Student Conduct Code (section 11.53c) further provides as follows:
In situations where the complainant is incapacitated or incapable of giving consent, which includes but is not limited to when the complainant is unable to consent due to consumption of alcohol or drugs, the accused is responsible for misconduct if the accused sexually violates the complainant.
In addition, the University’s own “Curriculum for Adjudicators of Sexual Misconduct Cases” states, at length, as follows:
Students should understand that the use of alcohol or other drugs in no way diminishes their personal responsibility for acts of sexual misconduct perpetrated while under the influence of such substances.
- Intoxication of the accused does not diminish his or her responsibility for a sexual misconduct act;
- In situations where the complainant is incapacitated or incapable of giving consent, which includes but is not limited to when the complainant is unable to consent due to consumption of alcohol or drugs, the accused is responsible for misconduct if the accused sexually violates the complainant.
The University therefore explicitly and repeatedly identifies sexual violations that occur while the victim is inebriated as sexual assault.
Per all testimony provided, Reed did in fact consume significant amounts of alcohol on the evening in question. Reed testified to consuming in excess of seven shots over a period of two to three hours, which would have amounted to an approximate Blood Alcohol Level of .200 or higher. (Reed Decl., para. 9.)
Testimony provided by Reed and corroborated by Bean also suggests that Reed was not in full control of her faculties; Reed testified to SJACS that after inappropriate touching (including unwanted digital penetration that constitutes rape) occurred on the dance floor at the party Reed and Bean attended that night, Reed walked Bean home. This betrays a lack of awareness (i.e. incapacitation) in the face of escalating stakes.
Further, per the accused’s own admission (in his testimony provided to adjudicators and in audio-records supplied as evidence by Reed), as well as the testimony of Reed and numerous witnesses, Bean was intoxicated at the time of the incident. Evidence that includes Bean’s own verbal admission supports the fact that Bean was indeed inebriated to the point of loss of awareness (“blacking out”). (Id.) Bean was therefore incapacitated, Bean put himself into a position where his actions were no longer protected by University policy, and those actions automatically fall within sanctionable “sexual misconduct.”
The adjudicators’ failure to implement the University’s policy regarding complained-of sexual assault between intoxicated students is a violation of University policy that entitles Ms. Reed to a hearing de novo.
THE DECISION WAS IMPROPERLY PREDICATED ON
BLATANTLY INACCURATE REPORTING OF TESTIMONY AND EVIDENCE,
PROVIDING FURTHER EVIDENCE OF BIAS AND IMPROPER INVESTIGATION
Although the University’s appeal information letter does not provide for an appeal based upon abuse of discretion exercised in reviewing, assessing and reporting the evidence, the abuses detailed hereinbelow are offered as further evidence of bias, deliberate indifference, hostility, improper investigation, and inequitable treatment of the Appellant Reed, all of which entitle Reed to a hearing de novo.
A. The Adjudicators Misstate the Evidence to Provide the Accused with a Critical “Fact” Necessary to Make his Story Credible
The most egregious abuse committed by the adjudicators in their summary of the evidence is to misstate the content of recordings supplied to them by Reed to provide the accused with a critical “fact” necessary to make his entire fabricated story plausible. The decision states:
Although Ms. Reed can be heard in the recordings that she submitted demanding that Mr. Bean admit that she asked him to stop and that he failed to do so, he denies in the recordings that she asked him to stop.
This assertion is simply inaccurate and false. Nowhere in more than twenty pages of transcriptions of the audio recordings does Bean deny that Reed asked him to stop. What Bean instead lamely asserts is the same fabrication he asserted to Reed all along — that he did not remember whether Reed told him to stop because he did not remember the events of that evening. For nearly two years, Bean took the position that he was too drunk to be aware of or remember Reed’s pleas that he stop raping her. Reed Decl., para. 11. He continued to affirm that position of “no memory” in the taped confessions Reed supplied to SJACS. Curiously, however, when Bean provided his testimony to SJACS, he had a miraculous restoration of his memory, to the extent that he was able to remember vast numbers of details which he insisted confirmed his fabricated story of Reed’s voluntary participation in the sexual assault.
To demonstrate the complete mischaracterization of Bean’s statements in the taped confessions, Reed submits the following portions of the transcripts in which Bean reiterates his claim of “no memory” of the events:
RECORDING NO. 4, from a Joint counseling session before two University staff members (counselors) in the Student Counseling Center:
BEAN: Oh, oh. Um… . But, uh — yeah, it started off like that but it got more physical. And, um … like — I, uh, think three weeks into it, we had sex. And, um … it was December third. We were both … very drunk… . And, um, I, honestly, I don’t remember the night.
COUNSELOR: At all? You have no mem-memory?
BEAN: I remember going to her apartment. [huffs] And, um … and I raped her. I date raped her.
COUNSELOR: I-I’m … okay, with all due respect to — [to REED] I-I see that this is upsetting for you, and, from the time you walked in, that now makes more sense to me, why this is so distressful for you. So I want to respect both of your experience. [to BEAN] But I’m kind of confused in how you — what — how you — I mean, besides her saying something, what was your account of that, if you don’t remember anything besides going there?
BEAN: Um, well, I mean, the next day she confronted me about it, and I knew we had been intimate, you know — I-I knew we had done something, but I wasn’t sure what, exactly, it was. And then, you know, of course the next morning I wake up and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, we had sex. Yeah, it was good, you know, ‘cause … you know, we wanted it, obviously.” And then she told me she didn’t want it —
BEAN: — and I was very, very upset.
BEAN: And, I, uh, I — I kinda didn’t believe it. I wasn’t sure because I couldn’t remember it.
From RECORDING NO. 3 made in Reed’s apartment:
REED: I didn’t — I did not — I went — I had you come in with me, and we were naked, and I was gonna give you a blow job and I thought you were going to eat me out. That’s what I thought was gonna happen. And then all of a sudden you were on top of me, and you had your dick in your hands, and you were putting it in me, and it hurt so much, and I was saying, “Don’t do it.” (several sobs) I was saying, “Don’t! No, no!” (sobbing, sniffling) And you were on me and I was pinned like this. (rustling, gasp) And then I heard those two girls come back, and I — I was so drunk, and (gasp) I thought, “No, don’t, don’t scream, don’t kick him off you —
BEAN: We were — we were both so drunk and —
REED: It will make — it will make noise and they’ll know that you’re a slut and they’ll think that you meant to have sex and I didn’t, I didn’t! And I thought that it would just be better if it was just over, but you have so much fucking stamina, it went on forever.
BEAN: We — we were both really drunk, okay? (she wails) We were both really drunk, and it was a stupid mistake. It was something that was really fucking dumb.
REED: You didn’t listen to me, you didn’t care enough to listen to me, I was just a hole.
BEAN: I was drunk! I didn’t mean to, you’re not a whore, okay?
REED: Hole for you to stick —
BEAN: … oh.
REED: — your dick in. (gasps) I wasn’t a person, I wasn’t talking. Ugh.
BEAN: I’m sorry.
REED: That — the memory of it — the memory of it makes me want — (Reed is wailing.)
BEAN: I don’t — I don’t remember it. I don’t remember anything about it.
The adjudicators’ deliberate misstatement of the evidence demonstrates bias and a preconceived agenda to find Bean innocent of rape. As such, it is ample grounds to invalidate the decision rendered in this matter and grant Reed a hearing de novo.
B. The Decision, Deliberately or Indifferently, Misstates the Appellant’s Testimony
In the decision rendered by SJACS, the adjudicators identify several “facts” as “testified to” or “agreed on” by Appellant Reed which Reed never agreed upon or offered as part of her testimony or evidence. It is worth noting that although Reed requested that her sessions with the adjudicators be tape-recorded, this request was denied by Torres-Retana. Reed Decl., para. 4. Had Reed been able to tape record these sessions, she would now be able to prove definitively that her testimony was mischaracterized in the decision. Because her request for a recording was denied, she has only her own sworn testimony to identify the adjudicators misstatements of “fact.”
1. The adjudicators state: “While at the party, the couple began dancing together and displaying public affection. Both individuals agreed that the public affection included touching and making out.”
Reed categorically denies that she ever agreed that the behavior Bean unilaterally engaged in while they were dancing constituted a display of “public affection” or that it included “making out”. Indeed, in an email from Reed to SJACS on 1 February, she refers to the behavior on the dance floor explicitly, documenting that any such touching was not consensual and was not reciprocated by Reed (“ … after Bean embarrassed me on the dance floor”). Reed consistently reported to the adjudicators that Bean fingered her against her will, pulled her dress top down on the dance floor and “humiliated” her by sticking his hand down the neck of her dress and groping her breast, and then, when she attempted to pull the top of her dress back up, he continued to humiliate her by putting his hand up under her skirt, exposing her underwear and labia. Reed testified that his behavior had thereby escalated to assaultive behavior and Reed thereupon insisted that they leave. Reed Decl., para. 12.
In Reed’s account of this incident, this behavior in no way amounts to a “display of public affection”, in no way involved “making out”, and in no way involved Reed’s participation. For the adjudicators to characterize Reed’s testimony in the manner they did demonstrates gross disregard and disrespect of the victim, as well as bias and dishonesty.
2. The adjudicators state: “They [victim and accused] agreed they had sexual intercourse.”
As stated hereinabove, Reed insisted that the action was not “intercourse” (implying a voluntary interchange), but “sexual penetration” without consent. The use of the word “intercourse” betrayed a predisposition to regard the act as non-violent in intent and effect, and the use of this word to describe the action is contrary to the University’s own practice in defining rape as a “sexual act, either attempted or completed, when vaginal, anal or oral penetration takes place without the consent of the person penetrated …”
The fact that the adjudicators refer to the sex act as “intercourse” and assert that Reed “agreed” to such a characterization is biased, dishonest and negligent.
3. The adjudicators state: “They [victim and accused] agreed that their sexual engagement progressed from making out to performing mutual oral sex in the living room.”
Again, this not a true summary of Reed’s testimony. Reed was and remains adamant that Bean attempted to perform oral sex upon her on her living room couch, at which point she insisted that he desist and that they move to the privacy of her room for such intimate behavior, to which Reed had no particular objection as long as it was not occurring in a public space. Reed Decl., para. 13.
However, the adjudicators’ misstatement of Reed’s testimony again demonstrates their complete disregard of the distinctions drawn in Reed’s testimony and their predisposition to recast the “facts” in ways favorable to the accused and prejudicial to the victim.
4. The adjudicators state: “They agreed that in her bedroom, both individuals were completely undressed by their mutual doing and continued their mutual physical intimacy.”
Reed maintains that she never testified about these specifics or provided such a statement to SJACS because she simply doesn’t remember who did what in this regard. Reed Decl., id.
Again, the adjudicators’ misstatement of Reed’s testimony demonstrates their predisposition to recast the “facts” in ways favorable to the accused and prejudicial to the victim.
5. The adjudicators state: “Ms. Reed recalled telling Mr. Bean that she was not comfortable moving forward and that this would ruin their relationship, as well as saying that it hurt and asking for lubrication.”
To repeat unequivocally, Ms. Reed categorically denies ever “asking for lubrication” — a denial made particularly important because of the fact that the adjudicators relied on this mythical request for lubrication as evidence of Reed’s consent to intercourse. Reed Decl., para. 8.
Reed recalls that she shared with SJACS multiple statements she made to Bean before and after Bean forcibly inserted his penis into her. These statements included her assertion that she attempted to “reason” with Bean, and one of the several reasons she provided him for why they should not engage in sex at that time was her extreme pain, the fact that she was “bone dry” and the fact that neither she nor Bean had lubricant. At no time did Reed “request” lubricant; the absence of lubricant was another reason she supplied to Bean that he should stop because he was hurting her. Reed Decl., para. 8. It is highly significant and interesting to note, however, that had Reed in fact requested lubricant during otherwise consensual intercourse and not received cooperation from Bean, that failure by Bean would constitute a revocation of consent, and evidence that any further sexual activity would have been due to Bean forcing sex upon Reed against her expressed wishes.
This key misstatement of Reed’s testimony is foundational to the adjudicators’ finding of “consent”; it is clear evidence of the adjudicators’ gross indifference to the truth and bias against Reed.
6. The adjudicators state: “Ms. Reed recalled Mr. Bean subsequently asked for her permission to change positions, at which time she got off of the bed and walked over to the desk before re-engaging in intercourse while leaning on the desk. She says she did so out of fear.”
Ms. Reed denies ever stating that Bean “asked for her permission” for anything during the penetrative assault. To the contrary, Ms. Reed specifically recalls, and specifically recalls testifying, that she pointed out to Bean that Bean’s thrusting was making her bed squeak, which was horrifyingly humiliating to her. Reed testified that this was another attempt to reason Bean into discontinuing the forcible sex act. At that point, however, Bean told Reed that she should let him “do [her] from behind” over her desk, because it would be “quieter.” After more prolonged squeaking, Reed got down and bent over the desk. Reed Decl., para. 14. As to the adjudicators blithe assertion that she then commenced “re-engaging in intercourse,” Reed reasserts her objection to this characterization—Reed never characterized this as intercourse; Reed’s testimony was that Bean continued to rape her.
Again, this is a key misstatement of Reed’s testimony that is foundational to the adjudicators’ finding of “consent”. Again, this misstatement of the victim’s testimony is clear evidence of the adjudicators’ gross indifference to the truth and bias against Reed.
Reed has herein offered a detailed and credible basis to recognize that the adjudicators freely twisted and rewrote Reed’s testimony in order to support the decision they wished to reach. This close examination of the evidence submitted is significant and a ground for reversal of the decision not because the evidence points to a different verdict (although it does in fact point to a different verdict), but because the adjudicators’ willingness to rewrite Reed’s testimony and force words into her mouth that she never uttered is evidence of bias, deliberate indifference as to the truth, hostility, improper investigation, and inequitable treatment of the Appellant Reed. On this ground also, the adjudicators’ decision must be overturned and Reed given a re-hearing de novo.
C. The Decision Relies on Testimony Provided by the Accused that Was Never Provided to Reed
In the decision rendered by SJACS, the adjudicators identify several inaccurate “facts” which Reed was never informed of or allowed to respond to or rebut. The adjudicators’ reliance on these alleged “facts” in their decision highlights the magnitude of the error they committed by failing to inform Reed of these portions of Bean’s testimony.
1. The adjudicators state: “… the couple met at Ms. Reed’s apartment and consumed a shot of alcohol each. Ms. Reed provided Mr. Bean with alcohol as Ms. Reed was 21 and Mr. Bean 19.”
At no time did Reed testify that she provided Bean shots prior to the party she and Bean attended on 3 December 2010; Reed did not have alcohol at that time, which was indeed why she and Bean attended the “pre-gaming” party at her friend’s apartment that night, where Bean consumed in excess of ten shots, as corroborated by witness testimony. Reed was never informed that Bean testified Reed supplied him with liquor before they went out. Reed Decl., para. 15.
2. The adjudicators state: “Mr. Bean described both parties as … making verbal noises (moaning) …”
Again, SJACS incorporates Bean’s unsubstantiated assertion into their official findings, despite the fact that they never revealed this testimony to Reed and despite the fact that such testimony was flatly refuted by Reed’s testimony. Reed testified that she was, in fact, quiet throughout the duration of the incident because her roommates came home and she was mortified. This testimony is further corroborated by statements made by Reed in the October audio recordings, prior to the incident’s report. Reed Decl., para. 16.
3. The adjudicators state: “After the intercourse was completed, Mr. Bean recalled the two cuddling in Ms. Reed’s bed and continuing to kiss.”
Again, SJACS incorporates Bean’s unsubstantiated assertion into their official findings, despite the fact that they never revealed this testimony to Reed and despite the fact that such testimony was flatly refuted by Reed’s testimony. Reed testified that Bean attempted to cuddle up next to her, but that she turned to face the edge of the bed, that Bean fell asleep beside her in her bed, and that she lay awake for most of the night until he finally left in the morning. Reed Decl., para. 17.
The significance of these items of evidence — relied upon by the adjudicators in their decision — is that none of these allegations were ever revealed to Reed. This provides further evidence that the adjudicators did not provide equal treatment and disclosure to Reed as they did for Bean. On this ground also, the adjudicators’ decision must be overturned and Reed given a re-hearing de novo.
D. The Adjudicators Failed to Reference or Account for the Vast Bulk of Evidence Submitted by Reed in Support of her Assertion that She Was Raped by Bean
As already mentioned, Torres-Retana and Goldstein have further prejudiced Ms. Reed’s grounds for appeal by omitting almost all relevant evidence supplied by Ms. Reed over the six-month period, including but not limited to all of the following.
1. Failure to acknowledge Gmail chat with Moore the same day as the rape, in which Reed recounts her many instances of saying “no” to the penetrative sex act, and which serves as corroboration of Reed’s account of the rape under the “excited utterance” exception to the hearsay rules
2. Failure to reference Student Counseling records and Reed’s cluster of symptoms consistent with Rape Trauma Syndrome, which serve as corroboration that Reed’s perception of the event was that it was indeed rape.
3. Failure to acknowledge witness testimony from Reed’s TA from 2010, who noted that Reed called him “crying” the day of the rape; Hoefer also corroborated the onset of Reed’s RTS, stating Reed’s demeanor in class changed after 4 December 2010.
4. Failure to acknowledge the additional audio recordings in which Bean freely left when he desired, and volunteered the fact that he “raped” Reed in front of two witnesses—two counselors from whom he was asking help and to whom he had no motive to lie.
5. Failure to acknowledge Bean’s diary entry from 2010 in which he states he had engaged in drunken intercourse with Reed that he was aware they had not both wanted (i.e. Bean’s 2010 statement that Bean and Reed had engaged in drunken non-consensual intercourse in December 2010).
6. Failure to acknowledge Reed’s downward trend in grades following the incident, which corroborate the onset of RTS.
7. Failure to acknowledge Reed’s severe medical health issues following the incident, which corroborates the onset of RTS.
The University’s own Curriculum for Adjudicators of Sexual Violence Cases pamphlet instructs adjudicators to consider corroborating evidence, such as the presence of rape trauma syndrome (RTS) in the complainant.
In cases when the accused insists that the sexual intercourse took place but it was a consensual intercourse and, technically, it is a “he said, she said” situation, rape trauma syndrome evidence can be, [sic] a factor, if not corroborating the victim’s credibility, then at the very least, educating the Adjudicating Body about the impact of rape on the victim. (33)
Reed at all times relevant hereto presented as someone who had experienced a profound trauma; further, Reed released her student counseling records to establish the presence of anxiety and stress, clinical depression, and the onset of suicidality over the two-year period following her rape.
The adjudicators failures to reference any of this evidence, even to discount it, further demonstrates the inadequacy of their investigation and the inequity inherent in their decision.
E. The Adjudicators Failed Utterly to Account for the Inconsistencies Between Bean’s Testimony and the Statements He Made in the Audio Records
The Curriculum for Adjudicators of Sexual Violence Cases pamphlet also instructs adjudicators to “[p]ay attention to the inconsistencies in both of the accused person’s and victim’s versions of the events.” Reed attempted at numerous junctures to point out the inconsistencies between Bean’s testimony and his accounts of that evening made on prior occasions. Reed’s efforts in this regard are documented by emails sent throughout the process by Reed to the adjudicators as well as by emails sent by Reed to Reed’s advocate, Danielle Lancon. Most significantly, Bean’s story changed from “no memory” of the event because he was “black-out drunk” (in December 2010, December 2011 and October and November of 2012) to recounting specifics of the incident in testimony provided to Torres-Retana and Goldstein in 2013.
This crucial inconsistency was key not only to establishing Bean’s guilt of the offense, but also to understanding the nearly incomprehensible fact of Reed’s continued relationship with Bean—a fact that the adjudicators do cursorily relate in the predicate to their decision. When the relationship is understood as the response to a lie buttressed by protestations of remorse and love, it is no longer incomprehensible, but if Bean’s inconsistency in this regard is omitted, the omission makes Reed appear either insane or motivated by ill-will.
At all times throughout a two-year period, documented by student counseling records, witness testimony, as well as email and diary entries provided by Reed, Reed’s story has remained consistent. The adjudicators deliberate omission of Bean’s inconsistency again serves to demonstrate their bias, indifference, failures to investigation and unfair treatment of the victim.
F. The Adjudicators Failed Utterly to Account for Bean’s Independent 2010 Admission to Engaging in Drunken Non-consensual Intercourse with Reed
As a final ground of bias, failure to investigate and inequitable treatment, Ms. Reed points to the adjudicators omission from their decision a critical admission Bean made to himself in his own diary which confirms that as early as mid-December 2010, Bean knew his sexual penetration of Ms. Reed on 4 December 2010 complained-of was not consensual.
After SJACS informed Ms. Reed that Bean had testified that the sex was “consensual” — despite his repeated admissions in the audio recordings that he had no memory with which to assert such a claim — Ms. Reed provided SJACS with a 31 October 2012 email in which Bean quoted from his diary for the year 2010. In this diary entry, dated approximately 16 December 2010, Bean wrote:
For the first time made love, not while drunk, in the morning. Maybe noon, and this time we both wanted to be with each other.
This single piece of evidence by itself displays a guilty knowledge that existed long before Reed taped Bean’s confession four separate times. Whatever justification Bean purported to have for repeatedly making a false confession to Ms. Reed and to counselors at the end of his relationship with Ms. Reed, he certainly did not have that justification when writing a private note to himself in his private diary in 2010. Exclusion of Bean’s unprompted personal admission to himself — that he engaged in intoxicated intercourse that he was aware Reed did not “want” — renders any finding against Ms. Reed improper, biased, deliberately indifferent as to the truth, and inequitable in its treatment of Ms. Reed. On this ground as well, the adjudicators’ decision must be overturned and Reed given a re-hearing de novo.
Complainant Reed respectfully asserts that any one of the violations documented hereinabove is sufficient grounds to require that the decision in this matter be set aside for a hearing de novo. Reed further respectfully suggests that the cumulation of abuses and violations by Torres-Retana and Goldstein demonstrates a deliberate indifference toward Reed’s rights and towards the violation of her person such that their performance in this adjudication is shocking to the conscience and should not be countenanced by the University.
. . . . . .
Please note: The “findings” letter to which this appeal refers can be found online at SlideShare. I have never been able to upload it to this blog in full because I don’t know a thing about PDFs.
Today, members of the Student Coalition Against Rape banded together to protest the recent (and ongoing) civil rights violations perpetrated by specific faculty — including DPS officers, employees at the Student Counseling Center and Engemann Student Health Center, SJACS committee members such as Raquel Torres-Retana, and the growing list of administrators who have not responded to direct correspondence from students.
To me, what is most upsetting about this letter, aside from the blatant factual inaccuracies and omissions, is the message it sends other women at the University of Southern California. Think about it, USC. What are you saying to your female students when a woman has roughly 24 months of hard documentation in conjunction with witness testimony and recordings in which a guy confesses to rape but assumes he’s off the hook for the felony if he just says he “can’t remember” the night “at all?”
My mother read the email for me. I’ve been asking her to screen all emails from SJACS because I honestly can’t deal with these women or the politics of this school anymore. My mother’s response? (Keep in mind, she’s a lawyer who specialized in civil rights for over 20 years.)
"They decided they had to decide against you, otherwise they would clearly be on the hook for having let your rapist attend school with you for all that time."
Caroline Heldman and Danielle Dirks, both professors at Occidental College and two of the most wonderful women I have ever met, were guests along with Audrey Logan — also a lovely girl — on “The Lawyer’s Guild with Jim Lafferty" on KPFK yesterday. Caroline and Danielle are experts on this issue, and the interview is definitely worth a listen to at KPFK’s website.
JIM: What we’re talking about now, and we’re just about finished with this topic but we have some more that we need to cover, is the epidemic of rape on college campuses in America today. I frankly had no idea. Um, something like one out of four young women on a college campus is likely to be raped or seriously sexually assaulted while she’s on-campus. We’re focused again on Occidental College because it’s typical of the college with problems in this country and it happens to be here in LA, and there’s a good activist group on the college campus fighting back against this problem — um, 37 Occidental students who were raped, sexually assaulted, battered and so forth filed a complaint now with the — uh, with the, uh — US Department of Education, their civil rights division. Three of the women involved in that complaint are with me today. They’re Audrey Logan, a student at Occidental College, herself a victim of a rape while a student there — she’s now a senior there — also, Professor Caroline Heldman, the chair of politics department at Occidental College, and Professor Danielle Dirks, a professor of sociology at Occidental College and expert on the aftermath of violent victimization. Before we, uh, we close the book on this today, um, whoever — start with you, if you want, Caroline, or who— the—there’s a national movement now, finally. It perhaps has been dormant for a while there — it’s now flowering more, I hope? Tell us about it.
CAROLINE: It is indeed, and it’s being fueled by social media, so —
JIM: Ah, good.
CAROLINE: — what has radically shifted ability to bring attention to this is the Internet.
CAROLINE: Now anonymous survivors can post their stories online, the word gets spread that this is happening. Information, you know, uh, awareness gets raised. And, also, we’ve been able to connect with other campuses, um, across the nation. USC, Cal State Long Beach, UNC, other campuses — Yale, Amherst — there’s a network, a growing network of campuses, that are doing similar things: filing Clery complaints, filing Title IX complaints.
CAROLINE: And we’re hoping that, um, that a lot of attention now shifts to USC, where Tucker Reed and her very brave Tumblr —
CAROLINE: — where she talks about her rape — um, where that can be translated into a Title IX complaint because she is not alone there, there are scores and dozens of women who have experienced similar things.
JIM: At USC you’re saying, too?
JIM: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, Danielle, so the movement is growing, it’s all over the country — is there a national network of organizations like your coalition, the Occidental Sexual Assault Coalition?
DANIELLE: Absolutely. There are, um, several, I mean, dozens of schools right now coming together, building a national network using Facebook, using Twitter, um, to collectively show other schools how you can file Title IX complaints, how you can file Clery.
DANIELLE: Um, you know, and we spoke to USC last week, they had no idea that, you know, the things that they were experiencing were violations of federal law, left and right.
DANIELLE: And so when you are collectively organizing so many schools to show that, you know, your school’s in violation and here’s how you’re gonna fix it, there will be a national wave. Oxy, USC, UNC will be at the forefront of those.
JIM: And hopefully the fact, as we — as we mentioned earlier — the Violence Against Women Act, uh, has a revision in it, uh, demanding that colleges provide some mechanism to deal with this problem. Then, they’re in violation of it, that will allow more lawsuits and complaints to the Department of Education and so forth.
So, I wrote an article for xoJane. They published it. It kind of blew up and I didn’t expect that. It’s been out there for three days now and has something like 15,000 likes on Facebook and over a thousand comments and over 200 Tweets. I also received a veritable flood of emails, Tweets, FB messages, and Tumblr PMs.
Again, I didn’t expect that kind of a reaction.
The majority of people who have contacted me have been just extraordinarily kind — contacting me and offering to write letters to University administration on my behalf, and there was talk of a donation fund to help cover the cost of my legal fees. This is all incredibly, wonderfully, miraculously kind and I have been trying to respond to every single message individually, and I want to apologize to anyone who has written to me and not received a response yet — I promise I will get back to you soon.
After normal people sent in their comments, I started getting contacted by Internet crazies — I’ve received messages and emails from deranged-seeming men’s rights activists (don’t get me wrong, I’m all for men’s rights, but be respectful, y’all), including links to and screenshots of posts from burner-accounts created in order to post defaming, obscene and unfounded allegations about me and my family on xoJane, The Frisky, and various Internet forums.
I’m not going to log in to these places and try to argue with people. I don’t have the energy or the interest to get into debates about rape culture. I’ve said before, and I’ll say again: I’m not a social analyst. I’m just a person, and, yes, I have opinions, but they’re my opinions and anyone is free to disagree if they can be respectful about it.
But will I be offended if someone sends me a screenshot of a post that says, “He probably didn’t hear her say no because she was choking on his cock in her mouth?” Yes. I’m human. It kind of says more about you than it does about me when you post stuff like that in an effort to bolster your point of view, dude.
Will I be offended if, on a forum where you intend to accuse me of being a misandrist and a closeted lesbian, you post a picture of my little sister? Yes. There are plenty of photos of me on the Internet that don’t also show one of my family members. If you have a problem with me, fine. My family are none of your concern.
Anyway, I really feel like I should point something out to all y’all men’s rights trolls:
You are not contributing to your raison d’être by not knowing what you’re talking about.
When anyone gets self-righteous and indignant on the Internet and wants to persuade people to join in the fun, the irate person needs to be more educated than those he (or she) is attempting to convince. So, let me help you.
. . . . . . .
Common completely incorrect conclusions I see people drawing from the limited amount of knowledge regarding this case available on the Internet:
1. “A JUDGE RULED AGAINST HER”
A quick search of this blog would show that my case has yet to go to trial. And a little research into the steps taken by the state to craft a rape case around any rape that isn’t a violent stranger-in-the-bushes-with-a-knife-and-a- bagful-of-roofies scenario would help you not sound like an ignorant misogynist rape apologist.
When a woman reports a rape, she reports it to police officers first. We all know this step. I took this step on November 4, 2012. If the police officers decide that there is enough evidence that a detective should be recruited to focus more specifically on the crime, the local sex crimes unit will assign one of its detectives to the case. I was officially assigned my detective in early December of 2012. It’s common for it to take several weeks for this development to occur.
The detective is then supposed to interview the person who made the report, is supposed to collect evidence, and generally do his job. That didn’t really happen. I was never interviewed by the detective, he didn’t follow up on obtaining evidence, and he didn’t supply important evidence to the District Attorney’s office. Not only did he not supply “important” evidence — I can’t he supplied much evidence at all. I literally have no idea what he could have supplied to the DA, because he literally didn’t have anything to supply to that office, other than a brief written witness statement I dropped off at the police department before I left Los Angeles for the holidays.
When I contacted the detective to ask when he intended to talk to me, he said he’d already sent the case to the DA and that the DA had rejected it due to lack of evidence. At which point I kind of wanted to reply to his email with, “Well, no fucking duh.”
I got in contact with the DA myself. When I supplied a broad list of the evidence, they were like, “Oh, yeah, come in and talk to us.” And I may be getting a different detective because of the lack of any “detecting” that occurred in the last four months.
But no judge has been involved. Case is still very much open.
2. “THE POLICE DIDN’T PURSUE HER CASE FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE”
See above answer. Short summary: Police did pursue case. Detective … forgot what the hell he is being paid to do or something. I don’t even know. Neither, it seems, does the DA’s office.
3. “SHE WENT TO THE SCHOOL INSTEAD OF THE POLICE”
See above answers, but also: because I had unbelievable trouble figuring out where to make my report (because Los Angeles literally has 7,000 police stations and strict rules on where people are allowed to go based on where they live, where the crime took place, etc.) and because I don’t have a car, I was told I could report the crime to the campus safety office, who would call LAPD for me, and basically I wouldn’t have to go anywhere because LAPD would be dispatched to the campus safety office location.
So while technically I did report the crime to the campus security office first (in order to qualify to get the LAPD dispatch), I did report to the LAPD, who launched their criminal investigation, that very day. I also subsequently filed a civil lawsuit against my rapist, at my attorneys’ suggestion. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight, like in Law & Order, you guys. It takes time to get assigned a judge and courtroom, and file responses and everything else that lawyers get paid to do.
But the school has its own policies about sexual misconduct, and any time our campus security office receives a rape report, the school automatically launches an investigation. I have already written in previous posts about how I was unaware of this at the time. So, contrary to what some people have been puzzling over, I did not rely solely on my university to penalize my rapist. The university investigation was only launched in response to the LAPD investigation.
As it should have been, because a school should rightly want to intervene if there is the possibility that a student may be involved in criminal behavior.
The article on xoJane, however, was more about how the university has not lived up to its own policies regarding adjudication of sexual misconduct since its investigation began. I was told by the head of the Student Judicial Affairs committee in February: “We believe you.” She assured me they were merely trying to craft the most comprehensive investigation and findings possible. The “investigation” dragged on for another two months. Efforts I made to speed the process — to schedule appointments with the office to better understand how I might support the findings they had already accumulated — were scheduled for weeks later. This is in direct opposition to the Obama Administration’s firm suggestion to schools that sexual misconduct cases be prioritized and expedited, and not last longer than 60 days.
I have not gone into detail regarding the general incompetence displayed by those in authority positions thus far because it couldn’t really benefit me when I was still actively trying to cooperate with these individuals. At this point, I have given up being told to wait patiently. If the system is flawed, I’m going to talk about it. I’m sorry if you or anyone else has a problem with that.
4. ”EVEN THE SCHOOL DISMISSED HER CLAIM”
Nope. Hasn’t happened, either. Article was about them trivializing my case, and generally displaying the attitude that rape isn’t an offense that merits “punitive” action from USC’s administration.
. . . . . . .
Right now I’m the originating complainant in a class action lawsuit against the University of Southern California, the administration of which, according to emails I have received in the past 72 hours, has established a deplorable pattern of trivializing and mishandling matters of sexual violence perpetrated against women attending the institution.
Women in this country are guaranteed fundamental rights that are being routinely denied females at the University of Southern California, according to story after story I have poured over these past few days. This is unacceptable. And illegal.
I’d also like to point out that nothing I have done so far is illegal, despite what some people seem to think. I made a claim. My rapist disputes this claim. (Because it is not a very nice claim, obviously.) I am not worried. He has a right to dispute the claim. Let him. I shrug.
What I find kind of interesting is when people say that I am a terrible person for talking openly about my life because my rapist is “innocent until proven guilty by a court” — and yet I have not been convicted of committing the crime of libel, but these same people don’t seem to want to afford me the same right of presumed innocence. Like, that’s just outright hypocrisy, you guys. Chill out. Seriously. It’ll probably do wonders for your cholesterol and stuff, and you’ll likely live longer in the long-run.
Letter sent this afternoon to the office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards (SJACS) as well as the attention of Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Jackson and University of Southern California President C.L. Max Nikias.
To Whom It May Concern:
Please accept this communication as a formal and final written request that the office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards affords me the rights granted me by the University’s stated written policies (assuring students a “timely” response to sexual misconduct adjudication), the rights outlined by the Obama Administration’s April 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, and the rights recognized by Title IX, the 1972 amendment to the Civil Rights Act.
I have over the last six months consulted several lawyers who have assured me that the evidence I supplied to the University — including extensive written documentation, corroborating witness statements, and, most notably, four audio-recorded confessions from my rapist stating he did indeed rape me — exceeds the University’s stated “preponderance of the evidence” threshold for an affirmative ruling in an adjudication regarding allegations of sexual misconduct. Further, additional evidence provided to SJACS on 2 April 2013, consisting primarily of a confession to the crime made in front of two neutral third parties, entirely vitiates my rapist’s primary defense — that he made these confessions to placate me so that he could escape from my presence. It should be noted that upon receipt of this same evidence, my case was re-opened by the District Attorney’s office, which is now pursuing their investigation with renewed vigor.
My lawyers have informed me that a (still-growing) number of my experiences during this process have been actionably discrepant with the experience guaranteed students — especially female students — by both the University’s Conduct Code and by federal law. Staff members repeatedly have not complied with the University’s policy to “conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others.” My representatives and I implore the University now to live up to its written promise of zero-tolerance when it comes to a rape perpetrated against one of its students. My representatives and I sincerely hope and expect that my rapist is promptly suspended while he is allowed to appeal the only decision that would acceptably fulfill a line of “recourse” that is outlined by University policy and promised to me as an “individual whose rights have been violated” and “infringed upon” in a gross and obscene manner.
To be clear — my representatives and I expect my rapist’s suspension and ultimate expulsion (prior to his looming date of graduation) in the face of evidence that clearly indicates I was subjected to a violent felony, as this is the only action the University can make that will satisfy its promise of “fostering a safe campus environment where sexual misconduct and violence are unacceptable.”
With all sincerest regard,
I am posting this message on behalf of the Student Coalition Against Rape at the University of Southern California.
ATTENTION ALL CURRENT, FORMER AND PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA:
We believe that the University has violated and continues to violate Title IX, which protects the rights of female college students. We are taking steps to lodge a formal complaint against the University, to ensure that current and future student victims of assault are afforded their full rights under Title IX.
To this end, we are currently compiling a list of student assault victims who were dissatisfied with the way their adjudication experience was (or is being) handled by the Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards committee — we are also interested in hearing from students whose reports were dismissed by SJACS and/or students who opted not to seek recourse because they were warned away from doing so by fellow students and/or by University staff members.
If you or someone you know was discouraged by the University’s handling of your reported assault, we ask that you please contact us. You deserve better and you may qualify for monetary damages.
You can contact us (anonymously, if you so desire) at our official email:
studentcolationagainstrape at gmail dot com
Change is possible, if we stand together.
I just read this article about a British woman who killed herself days after giving her testimony in a sexual assault case. Although her attacker was found guilty, the “process” made her feel raped a second time. And she couldn’t bear it anymore.
I sobbed and sobbed when I read the story because I know that darkness inside that she just couldn’t live with another day. I know it, even though I don’t fully understand it, even though I can’t really articulate it.
People have been so kind in their responses to this blog and to other efforts I have made to speak out. They tell me I am brave and strong. But the truth is, I’m not. I feel like I owe it to other rape victims who might stumble on this blog to own up to that fact.
In February, I missed a week of school. I told people I flew home to Oregon because my grandmother was sick. What really happened was, I was so depressed I was one stubbed toe away from killing myself. Like, if just one more thing went wrong, I knew I simply did not have the strength to cope with it. I was too worn down. So I ended up in voluntary observation for 72 hours. I thought it would help. It didn’t. There isn’t any way for someone else to fix what is wrong with me. To clear away that darkness inside.
I posted my rapist’s name a week later. I felt stronger after that. For a while.
The thing about rape is, it is an assault on the core of your being. It is, of course, an assault on your autonomy, your self-confidence, your feelings of being in control — but all violent crime is that. Rape goes beyond this to attack your secret self. Your longings to be loved and cherished. Your desire to desire. Your unreasonable hope in trust. It crushes something fragile and sweet inside you and leaves the darkness behind, growing like an unborn changeling. And it is all made so much more horrible because of the way the world treats this special, peculiar class of victims.
We all know, first of all, that when a female — especially a teenager — claims rape, you gotta doubt it. It’s just too easy for the girl to kick up a fuss because she regrets the sex. Right? ”He said, she said.” A seventeen-year-old just killed herself up in Canada because the police threw up their hands when the four boys she claimed had raped her (and posted pictures of the act all over the internet) insisted the sex was all consensual. He said, she said. I mean, who are you going to believe? Right?
She was a beautiful girl, by the way. Her name was Rehtaeh Parsons.
Secondly, we all know that MOST rapes — the ones committed by a guy the girl knows — don’t really injure the girl. I mean, it’s sex, right? Maybe she would rather have not done it, but the truth is, women like to be forced a little, right? How is a guy supposed to know? Right?
I mean, what are we supposed to do? Take every guy who goes too far — the football players and the frat boys and the horny idiots who just can’t resist taking advantage of the girl who stupidly got too drunk — and put them all in jail? Ruin their lives? Over a few inches of rubbed skin-on-skin?
Thirdly, juries simply aren’t going to convict most of these guys, so why spend money prosecuting it? Why ask the taxpayers to underwrite this hopeless cause that maybe was just made up in the first place and didn’t cause THAT much harm?
Rape is the only violent crime where we leap to doubt because we can’t see the injury. Because it’s all on the inside. So we ask what the victim “did wrong,” and we drag our feet about punishing the perpetrator. We take this poor, hurt girl and isolate her. Blame her. Throw her into a valley of lepers built for one. Hurt her a lot more.
It’s a darkness inside that taints every human contact, every smile, every thought, every breath.
At the beginning of this month, I emailed the detective who supposedly has been “investigating” my rape case. I asked for an update. This was his response:
Setting aside the fact that I am not married, this is the big thing to notice about the detective’s letter: In California (unlike many states), there is a specific statutory exception carved into the general prohibition against making secret tape recordings of conversations. You can find it in California Penal Code Section 633.5. It states, essentially, that one party to a confidential communication MAY tape a conversation “for the purpose of obtaining evidence reasonably believed to relate to the commission by [the other party] of … any felony involving violence against the person.” This section further states that such recordings ARE admissible evidence.
So, why was I told by my Los Angeles detective who “specializes” in sex crimes that my recordings were a “violation of the law” that the District Attorney would not “except” [sic]? (So sad, too bad, Mrs Reed, nothing the LAPD or the District Attorney can do about it. Now it’s just another hopeless case of “he said, she said.”) Does anyone believe this detective is just so ignorant he doesn’t know about the important prosecutorial tool of legal, admissible secret tapings? Or do you think, like I do, that he was just trying to make me go away by telling me I had no credible evidence to offer?
Because, really, what are they going to do? Ruin this guy’s life over some sexual misunderstanding that arose (understandably) because he was so drunk he just couldn’t comprehend that when a woman he is actively fucking is weeping and begging him to stop, that maybe she DOESN’T just want a little more persuasion, a little more of the ol’ in-and-out?
On the same day I got that email blowing me off, I’d had that oh-so-pleasant meeting with SJACS, wherein I noted that they’d highlighted the sentences in my submitted diaries that displayed any confusion and denial regarding my rape, so that we don’t have to call rape, you know, rape.
What I want every rape victim who reads this to know is, I spent the next four days in the fetal position in my bed. My mother tried calling me, emailing me. I didn’t respond. When she finally got hold of me, she was weeping: ”You can’t do that. If I don’t hear from you for more than 15 hours, I start wondering when I’ll get the phone call telling me your body was found.”
My mother understands. My mother has watched this journey takes its toll. I am underweight. I am in and out of the hospital for one infection after another. I stay up all night and sleep all day.
This experience has been invasive from day one, in December of 2010, and it will only grow more invasive as time wears on. My decisions, my character — my being — is scrutinized and criticized on a daily basis. If I get angry, I am deemed aggressive and vindictive. If I get upset, I am deemed unstable and hysterical.
This is, and will always be, a lose-lose situation for me.
At first, I was fighting to be heard. To be believed. I feel satisfied with my efforts on that front. A girl who was very hurtful to me on this site — who accused me of having some sort of bizarre reaction to sex I “regretted” and therefore (either maliciously or insanely) was falsely crying rape — contacted me recently to tell me she now felt she had been mistaken. Basically, she said she believed me, and she hoped I would get the “justice” I “deserve.”
So if I am no longer fighting to be heard, what am I fighting for? Justice?
I think the primary reason I have always been struck dumb when asked what I “want to see as a result of this process” is because I don’t actually believe this process can offer me what I want. Because what I want, more than anything, is not to have been raped.
So. Justice. Recourse. Punitive action. Let’s think about that.
Lisbeth Salander can forcibly insert a metal dildo into the anus of her rapist — she can exact eye-for-eye punishment — and it doesn’t erase the fact that the rapist raped her. It doesn’t prevent thoughts of the rape from entering her mind when she’s whistled at on the street, or when she’s touched by a lover.
Punishment of my rapist is almost beside the point.
See, I don’t think rape is just about the two people involved. Not really. I think rape is about the culture. And I, we, live in a culture where a detective can feed misinformation to a rape victim so that he doesn’t have to bother arresting a rapist. We live in a culture where a woman can have countless diary entries where she states she said “no” and was forced to have sex anyway, but if there’s a single line that shows that she didn’t immediately realize and accept she had been “raped”, she can’t possibly be a rape victim. We live in a culture where boys actually think that “no” means “try harder.”
Sometimes I get so tired. So defeated. I look at the process stretching out before me, and I feel like I’m being raped all over again. On and on. The darkness inside keeps growing.
Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this. Maybe admitting that I am scared and hurt will discourage other women from speaking up. And that is the worst thing of all. Because it makes it harder for the women who do speak, knowing they are few and far between. And it makes it easier for the rapists who decide to rape, knowing so few women will dare speak about it.
But I needed to own up to it. I needed to admit how scared and helpless I feel. Because Frances Andrade was a brave woman. And she is dead. And I understand why.