UNC-Chapel Hill drops honor court case against student

Story highlights

  • UNC-Chapel Hill drops honor-court case against woman
  • Student had accused an ex-boyfriend of rape; she was taken to student honor court
  • University suspends portion of honor code
  • Outside review found no retaliation against student
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has dropped honor-court proceedings against a student who said the school retaliated against her for a sexual assault allegation.
In an e-mail to faculty and students on Thursday, Chancellor Holden Thorp said an outside review indicated no evidence of retaliation against Landen Gambill, who accused her ex-boyfriend of rape.
Gambill is one of several students who sparked a Department of Education investigation into how the university handles sex assault cases.
Thorp said a section of the honor code pertaining to "disruptive or intimidating behavior" would be suspended pending further review.
"This action is not a challenge to the important role of students in our Honor System, but is intended to protect the free speech rights of our students," the chancellor said in his e-mail. Thorp said the "important issue" will receive further discussion.
Gambill's attorney, Henry Clay Turner, had written a letter to Thorp, saying his client believed the university was retaliating against her because it let the student-run honor court charge her with intimidating her former boyfriend.
Gambill did not file a sexual assault report with police, and her former boyfriend -- who has not been identified publicly -- denied her accusation, according to his attorney.
The man then asked the honor court to consider intimidation charges against Gambill, saying her accusations had negatively changed perceptions of him on campus.
According to news reports, a campus judicial proceeding found him not guilty of sexual misconduct in 2012.
The Education Department in March opened its investigation at the request of current and former students as well as a former administrator. The department is looking into the women's allegations that school administrators brushed aside concerns about sexual violence on campus and failed to adequately investigate complaints of sexual assault.
In an interview in March, Thorp told CNN that university policies follow federal law and that the school has worked to make sure everyone there knows how a sexual assault allegation will be handled -- "but the way we implement (policies) can always continue to be improved."
School administrators have disputed the cavalier attitude toward sexual assault alleged by the students, noting that UNC has removed sexual violence cases from the list of concerns handled by the school's honor court and appointed an administrator to deal directly with victims.
The university created a 22-member task force to review and enhance its procedures for handling student-on-student complaints of harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination.
CNN's attempts Friday to reach Turner were not immediately successful. His law firm, in a tweet Thursday, said the charges against Gambill were "unconstitutional."