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University of North Carolina Student Says She Was Raped by Football Player and School Did Nothing

An aerial view of the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on April 21, 2013.
Lance King—Getty Images An aerial view of the University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on April 21, 2013.

She says authorities did not initially hold him accountable

A student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says she was raped by a UNC football player who has not been held accountable since the alleged incident occurred in February.

Delaney Robinson, a sophomore at UNC, says she was raped on Valentine’s Day at Ram Village, an on-campus apartment complex, after finding herself alone with the football player. The 19-year-old student held a press conference on Tuesday at her attorney’s office to address what she says is UNC’s and the Orange County District Attorney’s office’s delay in holding her alleged rapist accountable.

“I did everything a rape victim is supposed to do. I reported it. I allowed a rape kit to be taken. I gave a statement. I cooperated with law enforcement and with the Title IX office. But six months later the university has done nothing,” said Robinson, speaking alongside her father and her attorney. She said she is taking a public stand to demand better treatment for other students who come forward after alleged sexual assaults.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said the university’s public safety department is still investigating the case, and that his office will evaluate the claim pending incoming evidence, including some outstanding lab results.

Joel Curran, UNC’s vice chancellor for communications and public affairs, released the following statement:

While the University is aware of allegations made today by attorney Denise Branch regarding a student, under federal privacy law we are prohibited from responding to those allegations.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is deeply committed to the safety and well-being of our students and takes all allegations about sexual violence or sexual misconduct extremely seriously.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt and her administration have made addressing these issues our highest priority. Two years ago, the University adopted a revised comprehensive policy on discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault and sexual misconduct, that was developed based on recommendations and broad input from the campus community and outside experts. That policy establishes a rigorous process conducted by well-trained investigators. The University provides compassionate care to all students who need support.

These matters are complex and often involve multiple agencies including law enforcement. While the University always tries to complete an investigation as quickly as possible, our priority is to ensure that the factual investigations are complete and conducted in a fair and thorough manner.

While we understand and appreciate the public interest in today’s allegations, we are unable to comment further at this time.

Robinson said she reported the alleged rape to a sexual assault nurse at a hospital, the Orange County District Attorney’s office, UNC’s department of public safety and the university’s Title IX office. Robinson says she then worked with the university’s public safety officers who were conducting an investigation. Neither the school nor the DA’s office have taken action against the student who allegedly raped her, she said.

Robinson added that investigators from the university’s public safety office “asked consistently demeaning and accusatory questions” regarding what she had been wearing that night, how much she drank and her sexual history.

“I was treated like a suspect,” she said. Robinson said her “humiliation turned to rage” after listening to interview recordings between her alleged rapist and the public safety investigators, who “spoke to him with a tone of camaraderie.” She was allowed to review the recordings as part of the Title IX investigative process.

“They provided reassurances to him when he became upset,” she said. “They even laughed with him when he told them how many girls’ phone numbers he had managed to get on the same night that he raped me. They told him, ‘don’t sweat it, just keep on living your life and keep on playing football.'”

Denise Branch, Robinson’s attorney, said that the Orange County assistant district attorney had said “unconsciousness is rape, blackout drunk is not rape” and that the DA’s office declined to prosecute.

On Tuesday, the Orange County magistrate’s office issued a warrant for the suspect’s arrest on misdemeanor assault and sexual battery charges, Branch said, after Robinson appealed to the office directly and requested a self-sworn warrant, which is allowed under North Carolina law. The magistrate’s office declined to comment. Through a self-sworn warrant, people in North Carolina can request that a judicial official—in most cases, a magistrate—issue an arrest warrant if the civilian has probable “cause to believe a crime has been committed,” according to state law.

Robinson’s accusations come three years after the U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation of UNC’s handling of sexual assault reports. The university announced a revised sexual assault policy in August 2014, redefining consent as an affirmative “yes,” and not as a lack of resistance.

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