I wasn’t sure it was sexual assault. How does anyone know? He didn’t fit the typical character description, but there is no typical description. All I knew is that it shouldn’t be a student attending a private liberal arts university, employed by said University.
We had hooked up before, and things were normal. He was fun to hang out with and he was kind. Until he wasn’t. As our friendship progressed, he started doing things that were inappropriate and disrespectful. I began to distance myself, but it was not enough to protect me from something that I thought he would never cross the line and do.
A week after it happened I asked him about it. I asked him if I had given him my consent that night, and I just didn’t remember it. He told me that I had “implied” my consent through my actions. My consent was “implied.” I’m even confused how any of this happened, “implied” consent or not.
I remember pushing him away hard and with a purpose. How does being pushed away merit any consent, even “implied” as he said it was?
I was taught that such a thing would not qualify as consent and the sex we had was not that, but rape. As a student employed by the University, he was also trained about what did and did not qualify as consent. Maybe it didn’t stick for him that time or the 2 previous times he had been trained to identify the signs of rape.
I never wanted to bring this to the school; I wanted to talk this out with him and not publicize my story. I asked him what had happened and told him that I thought this should not go undiscussed. Due to his nonchalance and general disinterest in what had happened and what I was saying, I thought it was important to bring attention to this and report it to the school. The University found him not responsible, and gave me a warning not to retaliate against him. I had an option to appeal the decision, but it was too painful to go through once more. I couldn’t even bring myself to fully read their final decision.
The investigators asked me what I was wearing that night and I told them – flow-y shorts and a tank top. They then asked me about my shoes and if I had taken them off myself. I was wearing rainbows that night so my assumption was that I kicked them off in my drunken state. I failed to see the relevance of why I was being asked what I was wearing that night, down to the shoes I had on. I guess the investigators seemed to not have a reason for these questions either, as this information was later not included in their report. I asked the decision committee, the one that would decide his fate, why I was asked about my outfit. They agreed that it was inappropriate and said they would bring the investigators in to clarify why that question was asked. I never heard back with an explanation. I felt like I was in a movie, or straight out of one of those stories you hear about from across the country at some other school, never at the University of Redlands.
In the report I received on his recount of the situation and our previous friendship, the last thing he said was that I only reported this because I was blackmailing him because I “wanted a relationship,” as if to paint me in the light of a desperate, love struck girl, pining for attention. It worked on the University.
It doesn’t matter who he is, nor does it matter who I am. What matters is that this student is still employed by our University, roaming our campus free of any consequences for his actions. The investigators told me he was “not responsible” because I was only intoxicated and not “incapacitated.” The University defined these two words, as if you could give consent either way.
So, my issue here is that 1) I never gave consent, confirmed to me by the person who violated me and 2) I don’t remember not giving consent, which seems pretty “incapacitated” to me.
I didn’t recall it being aggressive, but I don’t remember much. The investigators asked me if I had any bruises or proof on my body, I said no. It’s common knowledge that those are the usual marks of a sexual assault, but there’s more than physical marks.
Consent must be given in a clear mindset, in every event that happens. Just because you had sex with someone last week or a few months ago when they were a little drunk doesn’t give you permission to have sex with them when they’re drunk again and in your room.
The interesting part is: this wasn’t my first concerning experience with this guy. A month or so prior we were hanging out in the morning and he invited me to shower with him. I wasn’t comfortable with that and told him I didn’t want to and that maybe we could another time. He was persistent in trying to get me to stand up and walk into the bathroom with him. Luckily, I was sitting and couldn’t be moved.
After I thought he understood that I did not want this with him, I got up and went to wash my face. As I was leaving the sink area, he stood in the doorway and blocked my exit. As I was continually saying that I did not want to take a shower, he did not let me exit the bathroom. He started pulling my hands downward and I pulled them away even more clearly saying “no” and I pushed by him to exit the bathroom.
While he went to go shower by himself, I uncomfortably sat on the edge of his bed, not sure if I could leave or should leave or what to say—having never been put in this situation before. Not wanting to later have the awkward conversation of why I had left while he was in the shower, I stuck it out and just sat there. He drove me back to where I lived without an apology and the situation was never talked about again.
After that, I made a point to not spend time with him or hang out with him anymore– and he noticed that we weren’t hanging out at all.
While the investigation was ongoing, he was relieved of the responsibilities of his job, but he was still getting paid the same as before. While they were investigating the situation to decide if he had or had not sexually assaulted me, he was still being paid in full for a job he wasn’t doing.
My question would be if a student brought the same situation to him looking for help, would he turn her away and say it wasn’t sexual assault and that she implied her consent? Or would he report it to the school like his job contract says he should? Imagine the backlash the school would face if he, a school employee, was fired for sexually assaulting a drunk student. The way the case was tried was a conflict of interest.
He was unfit for his position from the beginning though. Back when we were friends in August, he confided in me that the only reason he wanted this job was because of the power it gave him over others.
We were friends before all this, or at least I thought we were.
photo contributed by Halie West, Redlands Bulldog Photograher