Campus sex assaults: At Ohio State, victim ‘didn’t know what to do’

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 contain 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.

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Ohio State University police investigated 23 alleged rapes in 2014 and 2015, an I-Team analysis of police records found.

In one case, a student was arrested after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman while she was passed out drunk. He was arrested on rape charges, but ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor attempted breaking and entering.

Several cases were still open at the end of 2015. Of those that were closed, it was most often because the victim didn’t want to pursue the case or the county prosecutor declined to press charges.

Examples of cases that weren’t prosecuted:

Sept. 14, 2014

“There was blood everywhere,” the victim’s friend told Ohio State University police. “(It was her) first time having sex and obviously it wasn’t consensual … at all.”

The girls had come to Columbus to attend a house party. Each had a bottle of Gatorade mixed with vodka. They met a group of male OSU students and agreed to hang out in their dorm. When the victim’s friend and one of the guys walked into another room, another male student allegedly ripped off the victim’s pants and raped her.

She didn’t say no or attempt to fight him off, she told police, because she “didn’t know what to do.”

The encounter, which lasted maybe a minute, was interrupted when her friend walked back into the room, she reported. The girl quickly got dressed and left, leaving blood on the suspect’s futon.

The girl threw her underwear into a trash can, where police found it later that morning after the victim went to the hospital, which called the police.

The suspect told police the sex was consensual, saying he would have “stopped immediately” if the girl had said no. “(Redacted) stated if she would have said no then he would have stopped immediately,” the police report says.

On Sept. 15, the suspect received an interim suspension from OSU and was told to leave campus. Some five months later, on Feb. 3, 2015, the Franklin County prosecutor’s office declined to present the case to a grand jury.

Police records say the case was then closed, noting the victim “seemed disappointed.”

Feb. 26, 2014

After hanging out at a bar with a friend and a couple guys, the alleged victim agreed to go back to the man’s dorm room. Once there, the victim said the suspect forced her to perform oral sex on him, though she told him she didn’t want to.

“The suspect continued to force himself onto her,” the police report says.

Police found out after the woman told her residence hall director on March 4.

“(The victim) said she did not want to pursue any charges and would not give the suspect’s name for fear of retaliation.”

The suspect was later suspended and removed from campus, but police records say no charges were filed.

Ohio State University responds

“The first concern for many student victims of sexual assault is restoration to a normal life: moving around campus without fear of seeing the offender, finding safe housing, keeping up with academics and accessing support resources as they process what has happened to them,” said OSU Title IX Coordinator Kellie Brennan.

“At Ohio State, we do all we can to support the victim and we let the victim drive the process, including whether a report will be made to police. The new normal at Ohio State is to talk openly about sexual assault and shift away from treating the subject as taboo. Mandatory training for new freshmen is part of that shift.”

Added OSU spokesman Ben Johnson: “The police division investigates each reported incident and determines how to proceed after considering a number of factors, including but not limited to the evidence in the case and the wishes of the victim.

“We encourage that formal reports be processed through the appropriate law enforcement and university offices. The Ohio State University Police Division will continue to support our students in any way possible. It is a positive thing when students are aware of and feel comfortable using our reporting processes.”

>> RELATED: Mary’s story highlights barriers to convicting alleged campus rapes

>> IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION: 79 cases, 5 arrests, 0 rape convictions

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