Campus Sex Assault Special Report

Campus sex assaults: Prosecutor refuses Miami student’s plea for arrest

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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Of 38 sex offenses investigated by Miami University police in 2014 and 2015, police records reviewed by the I-Team label 20 of them as a “sexual assault” or “rape.”

The only one that led to an arrest by Miami University police was dismissed after a grand jury declined to indict.

One case that didn’t lead to arrest was Mary’s story, which illustrates the barriers that keep most sexual assault cases from ever seeing a court of law.

Here are other cases that never led to an arrest:

Miami University, Nov. 6, 2015

The male Miami University student was running laps on the track at Cook Field. A man he didn’t know showed up and chatted with him as he walked half a lap.

Suddenly the stranger grabbed him by the shoulders and forced him to his knees, the student reported.

“He stated he yelled at the male, asking what his problem was,” but before he knew it the man sexually assaulted him, according to a campus police report of the incident.

The stranger then pulled up his pants and walked away, the report says.

The victim asked to be treated for possible sexually transmitted diseases, but did not wish to pursue criminal charges.

“He said he just wants to put it behind him,” the report says.

May 1, 2015

It’s clear from police records that she believes she was sexually assaulted, but it’s not clear what actually happened.

The night began at a friend’s apartment, where the victim said she drank five or six jello shots, two shots of tequila, one shot of rum, two cups of lemonade and vodka and several swigs of straight vodka. She said she went with the suspect, a friend of hers, back to his apartment to watch a movie.

She reported the incident in July. In a written statement she said she was tired from the alcohol, but exactly what she claims happened is impossible to determine because Miami University heavily redacted the report.

“I can’t remember when my clothes came off,” she wrote. “We may have kissed as well. I don’t remember how, but at one point I was on my back and (redacted) was leaning over me. I remember him (redacted).”

That final redaction blacks out more than a page of what she told police happened.

The suspect claimed he stopped when she protested.

“We began to (redacted), it lasted roughly (redacted),” his report says. “She told me to stop, then I stopped. After that, I remember saying that I was sorry, then waking up to her being gone.”

In August, the Butler County prosecutor’s office said “based on the written statement alone of the victim, there is not enough to press charges criminally on the suspect,” according to police records.

The victim was not satisfied. She provided statements from additional witnesses, but the county prosecutor still said there was not enough evidence.

In April of this year, she was still pushing for charges. She provided three more witnesses to testify about how she was too intoxicated to consent that night, and provided audio of Miami University’s disciplinary hearing in which she claims he confessed.

“(She) indicated that she would like to see the suspect arrested and for him to plead guilty and face jail time and sexual predator status,” the report says.

Police reviewed the new evidence and closed the case again, records show.

Miami University responds:

“The cases we most often see occur between individuals where the alleged offender is a person known to the victim-survivor and the primary conflicting issue is whether consent to the sexual activity was given. In some cases, the memory of one or both parties may have been impaired,” the university said in a statement to this newspaper.

“The Miami University Police assess each case individually with respect to the willingness of the victim-survivor to provide critical information and evidence and the availability of other evidence and information to establish that a crime occurred. They then consult with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office to make the determination as to whether sufficient evidence exists to pursue a criminal prosecution without the participation and cooperation of the victim-survivor.”

Butler County Prosecutor responds:

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he couldn’t talk about specific cases, but said he aggressively pursues sexual assault cases he thinks he can win in court.

“I’m given credit for knowing what’s provable, and after 43 years of doing this on both sides of the fence, I think I have a pretty good sense of what’s provable and what’s not,” he said.

“I’m not the final arbiter on whether or not a case is filed. I give advice on whether it’s the right thing to do at that time,” he said. “(I tell police) if you want it to go to the grand jury, even though I’m telling you as your legal advisor in this case it’s a bad idea, go ahead and arrest him.”

Gmoser’s comments are expanded in this story, in which he talks about how alchohol creates obstacles to prosecuting sexual assaults.

>> 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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