An 18-year-old female student claims she was suspended from Bishop Burton College in the UK after she reported a sexual assault to the administration because her behavior had brought the college into “disrepute.”
The victim claimed that fellow students Stephen Johnson, 21; William Robinson, 22; and Thomas Price spoke to her outside a residence hall late one evening while she was drunk, then took her cell phone and keys and pushed her into a room where they allegedly sexually assaulted her. (CCTV shows that she was walking with her arm around Robinson.) Nevertheless, her roommate told Hull Crown Court, which is currently hearing the case, that the victim was heard shouting “Get off! Get out of my room!” After the alleged incident, the three men left the room laughing; Johnson and Robinson allegedly came to her later to apologize for hurting her.
The victim said when she reported the rape to Bishop Burton College, they told her she had brought the school “into disrepute by having sexual actions with a group of people.” Several days later, she was informed the school had “excluded” (suspended) her, as well as the three young men, over the incident. The school also sent her a letter saying she was suspended for “demeaning sexual action.” Forced by her family to explain why she was suspended from college, she told them about the sexual assault ; they urged her to report it to police (note: the school booted her out before she even reported it to police!). A police nurse found a bruise on the woman’s groin a full week later. Now, the three young men are facing a mix of charges including sexual assault by penetration, sexual assault, and rape.
It’s bad enough this student was allegedly sexually assaulted by three fellow students. Being kicked out of her college is like a violation all over again. She has been punished for a crime that was committed against her. And no, it doesn’t make it even marginally better that the boys were suspended, too — she should not be punished for being a victim of a crime. Sadly, Bishop Burton College is not the only university to mishandle a rape allegation this way; take, for instance, the essay with published by former Amherst College student Angi Epifano would was basically encouraged by the administration to leave the school. High schools and colleges have long been known to try to get rid of the alleged victim so to not draw negative attention to the school and even protect accused rapists, especially if they are student athletes. I mean, Stuebenville, anyone? This injustice absolutely has to stop: not only does it send a message to the victim in question that authorities don’t care about her abuse, it discourages other people on campus from reporting crimes in the first place.
Not surprisingly, it gets worse. This young woman is being violated all over again by having to listen to the defense attorney in court saying she “flirted” with the men, only claimed it was a rape afterwards when the men laughed at her, because she feared “gossip” and the bruise on her groin may have been from something other than a rape. All of these are typical ways to dismiss someone who has reported sexual assault. It’s quite disgusting.
Regardless of whether a jury finds the three young men guilty or not, her college should face some sort of fine or other punishment for its treatment of an alleged rape victim. This cannot happen again,
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[Image of police officer via Shutterstock]