Board sides with alleged rapist

Julio Rodriguez
Editor-in-Chief
&
Grace Sgambettera
Creative Editor

Members of the review board tasked with hearing a case involving an alleged rape have voted to allow the accused student back on campus after a judiciary hearing held on Oct. 23.

Ashley, a 27-year-old exercise science student, made the allegations against a male Hudson Valley student. For the purpose of maintaining privacy, Ashley requested that her last name be omitted from the article.

On Nov. 1, a memorandum sent to Ashley from Hudson Valley contained the verdict released after a closed session hearing on Oct. 23.

Ashley disclosed the results of the deliberation to The Hudsonian.

The verdict read, “The Review Board convened in closed session and considered only information presented at the hearing. Further examination on documentation submitted was viewed and discussed during the closed session.”

“It was a unanimous determination that the preponderance of evidence did not show that [the alleged perpetrator] violated the Code of Conduct,” the memorandum continued. “We feel that [the alleged perpetrator] should be allowed to return to school without penalty.”

The incident allegedly occurred on Sept. 23, exactly one month prior to the judiciary hearing. The rape allegedly took place at Ashley’s residence just one day after she first initiated contact with the accused.

“We were in the same class. We had lab and lecture together, but he wasn’t coming to lecture. I noticed that he was there the first two days and then he wasn’t there for a bunch of days after that,” said Ashley.

Ashley encouraged the male student to attend lecture. He insisted that he would return to class if she agreed to study with him. She invited him to her house a day after this correspondence.

“[The rape] happened at my house. I invited him over to get to know him. I don’t bring people into my room.” She explained that she typically invites visitors into her office because the room is home to her television.

Ashley continued, “I brought him in there and asked him to pick a movie. He was not about being in this room that wasn’t my own. It was really strange.”

Ashley left the room briefly and returned upstairs to find him in her room. “I was really upset about it. He thought that was stupid, but that’s my room. It’s my safe space. If I don’t give you permission, I don’t want you to be in there.”

Ashley admitted that she was initially hesitant to contact the police because she was afraid that the issue could potentially go to trial.

“People in my support groups have written about what they’re going through with their trials,” she said. “The way that the trial is set up, you go before the jury first and tell your story. Then, during the actual trial, you’re just being battered by the district attorney the whole time.”

Ashley also explained that she was afraid irrelevant information could be brought up during the proceedings.

“I’m really scared of that. I feel that even if I lost [a potential trial], it’s important to leave a paper trail so that if it ever happens to someone else, it’s there and they can see that it’s happened before,” she said.

At first, Ashley sought advice from her long-distance runner’s group and her lab professor. The long-distance runner’s group urged her to contact police and the lab professor encouraged Ashley to contact the college’s Title IX coordinator, Sandra McCarthy.

After reaching out to McCarthy and setting up a meeting to talk about the situation, Ashley walked into a room, which she described as “scary and intimidating.”

“I walked into the room and saw that there were six people sitting there,” said Ashley. “I had to sit down and tell six people what had happened to me. It was scary and I cried a lot. It wasn’t what I was expecting it to be.”

During their meetings, McCarthy allegedly advised Ashley to keep the situation out of the hands of law enforcement due to a lack of evidence.

“I brought it up to Sandra a few times that I was thinking about handing my evidence over to the police,” said Ashley. “She told me she’s seen cases like this before and it’s a lot of ‘he said, she said.’ She didn’t think I had enough to go forward with it. It’s like she talked me down from it. With the state of mind that I was in, It felt very discouraging. It made me think that it wasn’t a good idea.”

Director of Communications and Marketing, Dennis Kennedy, wrote in an email correspondence, “I’ve confirmed that all students are made fully aware of their legal rights, including the right to pursue criminal charges through local law enforcement. Our goal is to make students aware of all options and resources, on and off campus.”

A day after the meeting, the alleged perpetrator was told that he was not permitted to be on campus as the school handled this matter. However, the accused said the rape never happened.

“He was the one who asked for a hearing because he said that it didn’t happen. When I heard that, I said I definitely wanted to go to the hearing because it did happen,” said Ashley.

Erin Hatter served as chair of the committee, along with a student representative and Jennifer Eaton, a faculty representative. Together, the board listened to each side present their case. After hearing from each side, the board arrived at their decision.

Ashley said, “During the trial, we were allowed to ask each other questions. I wanted to know if he had ever thought that this was going to change the rest of my life. I asked him, ‘Why me?’ These are things that I didn’t really get answers to, but they were things that I wanted to know. I just don’t understand why it happened to me.”

Two weeks after the trial, Ashley received a letter in the mail notifying her that the burden of proof set forth in the school’s policy was not met and the alleged perpetrator would be allowed to resume classes.

After Ashley was made aware of the verdict, she called the police and notified them of the alleged crime.

“I went to the police right after I got the letter. I knew the school wasn’t going to do anything about it, so now I’m leaving the school entirely. I’m trying to withdraw and find another school to go to,” said Ashley.

After corresponding with the college, the Communications and Marketing department outlined the appropriate steps and procedures that are taken when a student reports sexual assault. The procedures can be found at http://www.hvcc.edu/catalog/title-ix.html.

The case is now an ongoing investigation with the Troy Police Department.

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