One student reported to Public Safety on Friday afternoon that she was raped on the campus last March.
Laura Durling, assistant director of patrol and security services, said the incident occurred in the East Tower. She said the parties knew each other, and the alleged attacker was invited into the victim’s room.
Investigator Tom Dunn said no alert was issued after the report because Public Safety knows the identity of the alleged attacker. Dunn said the investigation is ongoing.
Ithaca College student Erika, who asked that her last name be withheld, said she also knew the identity of her alleged attacker when she was raped in October 2006.
She said she had too much to drink one night at a party, so her friend offered to walk her home.
“I remember him kissing me, and I remember putting my hand out and saying, ‘no,’” Erika said. “We get back to my room, and he [said] he [was] going to tuck me into bed. … That’s when the assault happened.”
Erika said she didn’t remember much else about what happened that night, but she was suspicious because her friend was still in bed with her when she woke up. She said she got a rape test that morning, but the results came back inconclusive. Later that night her friend told her through an instant message that he had forced her to have oral sex with him, she said.
Erika said she had not spoken publicly about her attack until she attended a meeting last week in response to the Feb. 3 rape in Emerson Hall.
Erika said her alleged assailant was a resident assistant in East Tower. The incident took place in Terrace 10. She said she reported the attack to Public Safety immediately, and after they completed their investigation, the case was turned over to the Office of Judicial Affairs.
Erika said Mike Leary, assistant director of judicial affairs, told her they found her assailant guilty and placed him on disciplinary probation, but they could not remove him from his position as an RA.
When reached by e-mail, the alleged attacker confirmed that he was accused of sexually assaulting Erika and that he was not terminated from his position as an RA after the incident occurred.
“I know what I did was wrong,” he said in the e-mail. “I’ve learned a great deal from the whole situation.”
Leary confirmed he spoke with Erika regarding her assailant’s judicial case but could not comment further because of privacy reasons.
Erika said she was devastated when she found out her alleged assailant was keeping his job.
When asked why the alleged attacker was allowed to remain as an RA, Bonnie Solt Prunty, director of the Office of Residential Life, said she could not comment on personnel issues.
Prunty said the circumstances under which an RA could be removed vary.
“It is a case by case review … depending on what the violation was and a determination of what the appropriate outcome is for the staff member,” she said.
Prunty said sometimes there is a one-strike removal policy because the violation is so significant.
“For instance, if we had an RA who was dealing drugs, they’d be terminated,” Prunty said. “If they were possessing drugs, smoking pot in the residence halls, those would be the kinds of things that would result in termination.”
Prunty said the process is the same any time an RA is in jeopardy of being removed, no matter what the offense is. It involves multiple levels of consultation, starting with a residence director and potentially moving all the way up to the vice president of campus life.
Junior Sarah Brylinsky, a board member of IC Feminists, said she wants to change the policy that allowed Erika’s alleged attacker to keep his job.
“Is there really a system in place that thwarts [punishment]?” Brylinsky said. “I think we’d all like to update our response into a proactive policy.”
Brylinsky said the IC Feminists would like to have a collaborative effort with the student body, faculty and the offices of Residential Life and Judicial Affairs to reform the campus’s response to rape and create a culture of respect towards women.
Brylinksky and some members of IC Feminists will be meeting today with officials in the Office of Judicial Affairs to start discussing changes to the process.
“The creation of this culture won’t happen through a poster campaign, a rally or educational events,” Brylinsky said. “It will happen when each and every individual finds the strength to speak out against … rape culture in their lives.”
Erika said she had been in counseling since the attack and was doing well, until she learned about the rape in Emerson.
“When I saw the notice, my heart sank,” she said. “I can really empathize with [the victim].”
Connor Gleason/The Ithacan
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