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Student Accuses UNC Of Mishandling Rape Allegations

UNC-Chapel Hill Sophomore Delaney Robinson (right) and her attorney Denise Branch told reporters they believe the university is not adequately responding to Robinson's alleged rape.
Jess Clark
/
WUNC
UNC-Chapel Hill Sophomore Delaney Robinson (right) and her attorney Denise Branch told reporters they believe the university is not adequately responding to Robinson's alleged rape.

UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore Delaney Robinson, 19, says neither the university nor local law enforcement have responded adequately to her allegations that UNC football player Allen Artis raped her last winter.

"I have done everything a rape victim is supposed to do," Robinson told reporters at a Tuesday press conference. "And six months later, the university has done nothing."

A magistrate issued a self-sworn warrant for Artis' arrest Tuesday for two misdemeanors, including assault on a female.

Alleged 'Missteps' In Campus Police Investigation

Robinson said after her fellow student sexually assaulted her last Valentine's Day, she went to UNC Hospital to have a rape-kit taken and gave statements to law enforcement officers with the UNC Department of Public Safety. There, Robinson said, a sexual assault nurse told DPS officers that her vaginal injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma. She said she also had pictures taken of bruises to her neck and body.

But after that, Robinson said, the DPS investigation went awry. Robinson said DPS investigators asked her inappropriate questions.

"'What was I drinking? How much did I drink? What did I eat that day? Did I lead him on? Have I hooked up with him before? Do I often have one-night stands? Did I even say no? What is my sexual history? How many men have I slept with?' I was treated like a suspect," Robinson said.

Robinson and her attorney Denise Branch said DPS officers botched the investigation by interviewing Artis with his friend, a key witness, and that in a recording of the interrogation, DPS investigators appeared to comfort the alleged assailant.

"They told him, 'Don't sweat it. Just keep on living your life and keep on playing football,'" Robinson said.

Robinson and Branch said they were allowed to view the recording of the interrogation, but were not allowed to make a copy or get a transcription.

Robinson said she is also disappointed with the response of Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall. Woodall has not recommended charges, saying there isn't enough evidence to get a conviction.

"This police force is not capable of investigating a sexual assault case to appropriate resolution," Branch said, referring to DPS. She said DPS should have passed the case on to the Chapel Hill Police Department, which has a sexual assault specialist.

Woodall said the investigation is ongoing, and that charges are still possible.

A 'Delayed' University Response

Last March, Robinson also filed a complaint with the university's Title IX office, which conducted its own investigation into the allegations. The university can take formal action against perpetrators of sexual assault, including suspension and expulsion.

But Robinson said the university has still not rendered a decision, and that the investigation has been dragged out for too long.

"My life has changed forever," she said. "While the person who assaulted me remains as a student and as a football player on this campus."

Artis has been indefinitely suspended from the football team under university rule requiring suspension for any misdemeanor.

“We are aware of the misdemeanor charges against Allen Artis,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said in a statement. “I cannot comment on either the allegation or the investigative process. We take these matters very seriously and are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities.”

The university issued a statement saying it is prohibited from commenting due to federal privacy laws.

The allegations come two years after UNC-Chapel Hill overhauled its policy on sexual assault to improve reporting pathways and services for victims, and three years after five plaintiffs filed a federal Title IX complaint against the university for its handling of sexual assault allegations.

UNC-Chapel Hill is one of more than 100 colleges and universities that are still the subject of open federal Title IX investigations dealing with sexual assault.

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
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