Editor’s note: This story is part of a special report by the I-Team examining how campus police at Ohio’s universities handle reports of sexual assault. Parts of this series contains detailed descriptions of alleged sexual assaults. We believe these narratives — gathered over several months — are vital for understanding campus sexual assault, and the alleged crimes that led to no charges being filed. Read the entire “Campus Sex Assaults” series here.
In April 2015, a female University of Dayton student went to Miami Valley Hospital and reported she woke up after a night of drinking with her pants around her ankles. She said she would “never known anything (about what happened) if her friends did not tell her,” according to police records.
The case would lead to one of only five arrests in 2014 and 2015 out of 79 sexual assault investigations by police at eight Ohio universities during those years, an investigation by this newspaper found.
It also resembled the case of Brock Turner, the former Oakwood swimmer at the center of international outrage after a California judge sentenced him to only six months in prison for a sexual assault at Stanford University. The victim was unconscious and Turner was caught in the act by a pair of students who happened on the scene.
The UD student’s friends told her how they helped her home along with J-Vaughn Shrader, a 20-year-old non-UD student. She passed out the moment she got in bed, and her friends went to leave. Shrader said he would stay with her.
“As they were leaving, the suspect told them to turn out the light. Both (redacted) and (redacted) said they were not going to do that and they left the room, leaving the light on,” police records say.
Later that night another man walked into the victim’s room in Marycrest Hall and found the lights out, the victim naked and someone in bed with her. He went across the hall and called her boyfriend.
Records say the boyfriend sided with Shrader, a friend of his, and accused the woman of making a false complaint “just to make herself not look bad.”
Shrader was indicted in November on charges of sexual battery, a third-degree felony. In May he pleaded it down to gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony.
He was sentenced to five years of probation, banned from the UD campus and is a Tier 1 sex offender, the lowest level.
Allowing Shrader to plead “saved the victim from having to testify in court, and it requires the defendant to register as a sex offender annually for 15 years,” said a spokesman for Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck.
The other four incidents reviewed in which a rape investigation led to an arrest or indictment in 2014 or 2015 concluded with charges being dismissed in two cases, one misdemeanor conviction and one suspect found not guilty by reason of insanity.
The last of these involved Belule Ayele, a former Wittenberg student who was accused in 2014 of breaking into another student’s bedroom while she was sleeping, stripping off his clothing and threatening to rape her. She jumped out of bed and ran to another room. Police arrived to find him banging on the door, nude, holding a wooden stick and a bottle.
Ayele was arrested and charged with attempted rape. Court records show he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in July 2014 and ordered into mental health treatment. He was deported in October.
Ohio State police records indicate Columbus State student Corey Jones was arrested after an alleged rape at OSU in January 2014. Jones met a woman as she was falling down drunk on the sidewalk outside of a bar, and he helped carry her home. Dorm neighbors later saw him leave, and found her passed out naked in a pool of vomit. They called police. She didn’t remember meeting the man.
Police found Jones after he contacted them to say he wasn’t involved after they issued a public safety notice. He said she removed her own clothes and told him she wanted to have sex. Police records say he was arrested on rape charges and the case was referred to a grand jury.
Court records indicate Jones pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor attempted breaking and entering.
The two dismissed cases come from Miami University and Ohio University.
In the Miami case, from December 2015, a female student told police she found the suspect — whom she didn’t know — drunk and tried to help him home, but he picked her up and groped her under her clothes. He was arrested and charged with misdemeanor sexual imposition, but she later elaborated with details that changed the charge to rape.
The case was dropped after a grand jury declined to bring felony rape charges. Even though there was an arrest, Miami University won’t release the male student’s name, citing federal student privacy laws.
The OU case was dropped after a DNA test didn’t support the alleged victim’s claim that the suspect removed her underwear and had sexual contact with her while she was sleeping.
“The underreporting of sexual assaults is a societal problem that we need to address,” said Keller Blackburn, Athens County prosecutor, who handles rape cases at OU.
He and others said a key to improving reporting and empowering victims to seek justice for their attackers — helping to prevent more people from becoming victims — is first and foremost to stop blaming victims.
“When people have come forward to report, they have not been believed, they haven’t been supported, they’ve been told it’s their fault for what they’re wearing, for drinking,” said Katie Hanna, executive director of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
The cases reviewed for this story were from 2014 and 2015. There also were two arrests at area universities this year.
A Wittenberg student named Frank Sullivan was indicted in April for alleged sexual assaults reported to Springfield police by three purported victims in March. The assaults were alleged to have occurred last year and this year in on- and off-campus housing.
Former Wright State University student Myron Walker wasn’t included in the four arrests because his was one of several investigations still open at the end of 2015. He was arrested in April and pulled from Marine Corps boot camp in South Carolina on charges he sexually assaulted a female student in November 2015.
Police reports say he asked a neighbor to borrow a toiletry item and raped her when she provided it. He told police the encounter was consensual.
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