CNN documentary: Of 136 sexual assault reports at UNC, none resulted in expulsion
UNC "took investigatory steps" in case late last month, the DA says; the accuser's first report was in February
The accuser, sophomore Delaney Robinson, told the media Tuesday she was angry over how authorities and the university have handled the case.
“My life has changed forever, while the person who assaulted me remains as a student and a football player on this campus,” said Robinson, now 19.
Artis was charged Tuesday with sexual battery and assault on a female, both misdemeanors. His arrest warrant states he is accused of lying on top of Robinson, pinning her down with his weight as he raped her. The warrant further accuses him of pulling Robinson’s bra strap, “causing an indentation on her shoulder/back.”
Artis has not responded to the allegations. The office of Sam Coleman, his attorney, told CNN it has no comment.
Artis was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond. His next scheduled court date is September 29, though it’s unclear whether Artis will be required to show up or just his attorney.
Robinson said she was 18 at the time of the alleged February 14 assault at the Ram Village apartments on UNC’s campus.
“Yes, I was drinking that night on Valentine’s Day,” Robinson said Tuesday, with her father and lawyer by her side. “I’m underage, and I take responsibility for that, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to violate me. I did not deserve to be raped.”
Typically, CNN does not name alleged victims of sexual assault. In this case, Robinson came out out publicly.
Robinson said she went to a hospital after the incident and gave an account of what she could remember to the sexual-assault nurse. She was then questioned by the university’s Department of Public Safety investigators, who asked “demeaning and accusatory questions,” Robinson said.
“Did I lead him on? Have I hooked up with him before? Do I often have one-night stands? Did I even say no? What is my sexual history? How many men have I slept with? I was treated like a suspect,” she said.
Andrea Pino, co-author of “We Believe You, Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out,” said those questions reminded her of the ones asked of Brock Turner’s sexual assault victim. Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer, was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail – but only served three.
“The questions that she was asked (were) very similar to what the victim in the Stanford case said in her victim impact statement,” Pino said. “I think it shows the bigger problem we have with the criminal just system not taking rape very seriously.”
An incident report from the UNC Department of Public Safety was taken just before 5:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, according to the document obtained by CNN.
Robinson said her “humiliation turned to rage when I (later) listened to the recorded interviews of my rapist by DPS investigators.”
“Rather than accusing him of anything, the investigators spoke to him with a tone of camaraderie,” Robinson said. “They provided reassurances to him when he became upset. They even laughed with him when he told them how many girls’ phone numbers he had managed to get on the same night that he raped me. They told him, ‘Don’t sweat it, just keep on living your life and keep on playing football.’”
In North Carolina, anyone can go before a magistrate and swear to criminal acts that they claim happened against them. A magistrate then determines whether there is enough evidence to go forward. But charges that start that way can be only misdemeanors; felonies must be brought by the district attorney’s office.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said a felony investigation is still underway.
He told CNN on Wednesday that it’s unusual for a court to draw misdemeanor warrants while a felony investigation is under way. He said he can’t recall it happening during his 27 years working in the office. (He’s been the district attorney for more than a decade.)
Woodall said that he and his staff will have to have a conversation about “how we go forward and handle that.”
He said the UNC Department of Public Safety “took investigatory steps” on August 26 and August 29 and consulted with his office.
“These are very serious charges, and before we go forward we would like to have the investigation completed or close to being completed,” he said.
“There is no question that there was physical contact, but what the circumstances are surrounding the contact are what investigators are trying to determine.”
Cases such as Robinson’s are “difficult to prosecute and difficult to prove,” the district attorney said. While obtaining an arrest warrant requires only probable cause, convictions require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Woodall said his staff has worked to “refocus” investigators on achieving that standard of proof.
“UNC has been working with that standard in mind and consulting with us,” Woodall said.
Robinson’s lawyer, Denise Branch, said her client has fully cooperated with the investigation.
She provided a photo purportedly taken on the night of the alleged attack showing what Branch said was bruising on Robinson’s neck.
The university’s response
The University’s Title IX office has been looking into the case, Branch said.
Title IX is the law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at any educational institution that receives federal funding. The US Department of Education interprets Title IX to say that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, and therefore schools could be held responsible if they don’t investigate and adjudicate cases.
“Delaney made the courageous decision to come forward,” Branch said in a statement. “But that courage was met with inaction and indifference. Delaney feels betrayed by the University she chose.”
UNC said it is aware of the allegations but cannot address them because of federal privacy law.
“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is deeply committed to the safety and well-being of our students and takes all allegations about sexual violence or sexual misconduct extremely seriously,” it said.
The spate of allegations at UNC
UNC was featured in the CNN documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which examined sexual assaults on college campuses.
The university received 136 sexual assault reports between 2001 and 2013, according to the documentary. None of those reports resulted in expulsions.
But UNC isn’t alone. The University of Virginia had no sexual assault-related expulsions between 1998 and 2013, despite having 205 reports. Stanford University received 259 reports between 1996 and 2013, resulting in one expulsion, according to the numbers.
Pino, a UNC graduate, was featured in the documentary.
“I’m sad to say I’m honestly not surprised from what’s happening in Chapel Hill,” she said after the most recent allegations. “It’s very similar to what was happening five years ago, when we were considering filing our federal complaint. And it was the reason why we filed our federal complaint.”
Five women filed a complaint with the federal Education Department, accusing UNC of creating a hostile environment for students who reported sexual assault allegations, according to CNN affiliate WRAL.
In 2014, UNC implemented a revised policy on discrimination and harassment that included sections on sexual assault.
“That policy establishes a rigorous process conducted by well-trained investigators,” UNC’s statement said. “The university provides compassionate care to all students who need support.”
But Robinson and her attorney said that didn’t happen in this case.
The accused and his coach
As for Artis’ athletic future, UNC athletes facing misdemeanor charges are suspended from their teams. They can be reinstated if approved by the school’s athletics director, the team’s coach and other university officials.
UNC football coach Larry Fedora said Monday he could not comment on the allegations.
“We take these matters very seriously and are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities,” he said.
CNN’s Mallory Simon reported from Chapel Hill and Holly Yan wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Lauren Leslie, Connor Spielmaker, Tony Marco, Chandrika Narayan, Eliott C. McLaughlin and Ashleigh Banfield contributed to this report..