Allegations of rape are incredibly difficult to process. In many cases, there are no witnesses – which often leads to the classic “he said, she said” conundrum. The clear line between consent – and lack thereof – is also often blurred, often yielding outcomes inconsistent with the facts.
Many alleged rapists are convicted for crimes they did not commit … while many actual rapists are exonerated for crimes they did commit.
Even worse, many rapes are never reported … or if they are reported, victims often refuse to cooperate with investigators (or change their stories expressly to avoid having to pursue criminal charges).
Moreover, the crime of rape is so disturbing and harrowingly personal that the disclosure of details to the public can force victims to re-live the trauma they endured – which is often among the reasons they decline to see the process through.
Can we blame them for that?
Bottom line? One of the most odious crimes we can think of – a crime that our justice system absolutely has to get right – is regularly “gotten wrong.”
With tragic, life-altering consequences …
Late last week, this news outlet exclusively reported (here and here) on allegations of sexual assault – specifically rape allegations – involving multiple football players at Furman University, a private liberal arts school based in Greenville, South Carolina.
These allegations – which are being investigated by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – stem from incidents said to have occurred on campus in the early morning hours of Sunday, October 6, 2019.
Since our initial reports were published, news outlets in the Greenville area have followed up with additional details about this case – although the information gathering process has been hindered by Furman’s ongoing lack of transparency.
This morning, reporter Conor Hughes of The Greenville News confirmed what we printed five days ago – that the Furman police department “asked SLED to investigate an alleged October 6 sexual assault” on campus. Hughes also reported something our SLED sources never told us – that another investigation into additional on-campus sexual assault allegations was launched by the agency on December 4.
The incidents leading to the second investigation allegedly occurred between July 14, 2019 and September 2, 2019 – and it has been reported that “drugs and/ or alcohol may have been used to create a vulnerability,” according to a Furman email alert obtained by the newspaper.
It is not clear whether all of the alleged incidents involve Furman football players, however it has been confirmed that multiple Furman football players are being investigated in connection with sexual assault allegations.
Hughes further reported that students at Bob Jones University – a staunchly conservative evangelical school located in Greenville – have been “suspended” in connection with one of the SLED inquiries, but according to school spokesman Randy Page the suspended students “are not and have never been suspects in the case.”
What does that mean exactly?
We don’t know. We asked Page bluntly whether his school had taken disciplinary action against any victims of alleged rape or sexual assault in relation to the Furman case, but he declined to respond – referring us instead to previous statements made to the media that also failed to address that specific point.
This news outlet has heard several horror stories related to this case … including allegations involving the mistreatment of potential rape victims that would make readers’ skin crawl. At this point, however, we are continuing to gather information from our network of sources in Greenville – who first brought this story to the attention of our founding editor Will Folks during a business trip to the Upstate on December 9.
Obviously, both Furman University and Bob Jones University are private institutions. Which means different standards apply to them than state-supported colleges and universities when it comes to the public availability of information related to their operations. But both schools are required to report sexual assaults, and SLED is required to at least assist in the investigation of such allegations per state law (§ 59-154-10).
Is that process working in this case, though?
While it is obviously not yet clear what the eventual outcome of this investigation will be (as of this writing, no charges have been filed in connection with the allegations), it is abundantly clear Furman is mismanaging the process.
In fact, as we continue our investigation into the facts of this case, one of our ongoing focuses will be the extent to which Furman sought to keep these allegations hidden from the public view for as long as possible.
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