Raped while attending DSU: Sexual assault causes victim to leave DSU

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A Dixie State University student transferred away because she did not feel safe after she was sexually assaulted in off-campus housing. 

Alannah, who chose to only be identified by her first name, was a student at Dixie State University a year ago. Like many victims, she knew the person who assaulted her — she had considered him a friend.

“I went to hang out at his apartment after the homecoming dance along with several other people,” Alannah said. “I remember being very tired [since] I’m not good at staying up late and said I needed to go home, but somehow I fell asleep in his bedroom and when I woke up he was on me.”

Alannah went to the hospital and got a rape kit exam and a friend had her talk to the police two days after the assault. From there Alannah was turned over to the Title IX office and Dean of Students Del Beatty, whom she agreed to meet with.

Cindy Cole, associate general counsel and Title IX coordinator at DSU, said the standard procedure when a sexual assault is reported is to interview the victim, then interview the person accused of sexual assault, look for evidence on social media or texts, and review the hospital rape kit exam if there is one.

“I no longer participate in investigations unless specifically requested,” said Beatty. “However, I am trained and certified as a Title IX investigator.”

Beatty said it is common practice to have multiple investigators when looking into a report of sexual assault.

“I went to talk to them hoping they would be able to help and make things better,” Alannah said. “The best thing they did for me was that they took him out of my classes. The worst thing they did was make me feel like I was a liar after they concluded their investigation by telling me he most likely didn’t do what I said he did.”

Alannah said the school told her to find an outside source for counseling, so she turned to the DOVE Center. One of their representatives had been with her during her hospital exam, and they also ended up giving her counseling.

“We offer both the Health and Wellness Center and the DOVE Center [to victims],” Cole said. “However, the Health and Wellness Center doesn’t deal with chronic cases that take in-depth counseling, which sexual assault victims usually need more than six sessions. So that is why we refer them to the DOVE Center.”

Alannah said the Title IX coordinator chose not to believe her and decided her rape never happened.

“They just gave me a form letter telling me the outcome of the investigation and that I had a chance to appeal,” Alannah said. “Actually, because they never told me exactly what they did, I don’t believe they conducted the investigation thoroughly. I thought I had so much evidence.”

Cole said it was standard procedure to send a form letter, and not many students appeal the ruling.

After the investigation concluded and the man who assaulted Alannah was cleared of wrongdoing, Alannah was told she would no longer be protected by Title IX and her assailant could be in her classes again. Faced with this, Alannah said she chose to transfer to a different school.

“I used to prosecute [sexual assault] cases, and when the jury wouldn’t go the victim’s way, I would tell them what I would tell [Alannah]; ‘I didn’t have enough evidence in this case, perhaps, to prove [the assault] beyond a preponderance of the evidence,’” Cole said. “It doesn’t mean to her it might not have happened, but it just means I could not prove it based on the evidence. This should not diminish her or devalue her experience.”

According to national statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Research and Development Series, one in five undergraduate women will experience sexual assault while in college. DSU crime statistics have only reported two cases of sexual battery in 2014 and nothing since.    

However, according to the 2016 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, which DSU published in compliance with the Clery Act, shows that there was three cases of rape in 2013, two on-campus and one on public property, and two cases of rape on-campus in 2014.

Don Reid, director of campus police, said if it didn’t get reported to the police, then they will be unable to record the incident or investigate. He said he doesn’t know why DSU crime statistics didn’t match the Clery Act report but will be investigating the issue.

“My sargaent is the one responsible for the (numbers on) the website,” Reid said. “We will double-check [the numbers] and look up the actual scenerios.”

Cole said rape does happen at DSU more than people think, but it can be difficult for people to report it. Another aspect of DSU’s numbers is if the incident report doesn’t result in a guilty verdict, then the sexual assault isn’t recorded as a university statistic, Cole said.

Alannah said it is important sexual assaults aren’t just numbers and stories with unnamed people.

“It makes more impact if there’s a name attached, even one you don’t know.” Alannah said. “Women need to stop hiding these things so people realize how much it happens.” 

A previous version of this article insinuated Alannah was raped in student housing. The assault happened in off-campus housing, but because it involved two students, Dixie State University officials carried out the investigation.