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Furman Rape Victim Sues School That Expelled Her After Reporting Sexual Assault, Lawsuit Says

More disturbing details come to light in the high-profile case..

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A former Bob Jones University student who was allegedly expelled after she reported she was sexually assaulted by a Furman University football player is suing to get justice in the high-profile case.

The Greenville County woman “Jane Roe” filed the personal injury lawsuit Wednesday against Furman University, Furman University Police Department, officer Trevor Whitfield, Bob Jones University, and her alleged rapist “John Doe,” Haley Walters of the Greenville News first reported.

FITSNews founding editor Will Folks exclusively reported on this troubling story when it first broke in December, and again broke the story when the office of S.C. thirteenth circuit solicitor Walt Wilkins declined to press charges in February after S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and Furman University Police investigated the case.

The lawsuit details the events of October 6, 2019, beginning when Jane Roe and her friend were invited to a party at Furman by John Doe, a football player at the private liberal Arts university.

Jane and her friend were both students at Bob Jones University, a conservative evangelical school located in Greenville.

According to disturbing police documents in the case, also first reported by Folks at FITSNews, Jane Roe and John Doe met on Tinder.

The party was much smaller than the two young women expected with just nine people total — just them and seven football players, according to the lawsuit.

John then gave Jane alcohol and marijuana, which made her “noticiably impaired,” according to the lawsuit.

The party moved to John Doe’s apartment, where he gave an already intoxicated Jane more alcohol, according to the lawsuit.

When Jane told John she didn’t feel good, John told her she could lie down in his room, according to the lawsuit.

John then “negligently and recklessly” raped Jane, according to the lawsuit, which claims a reasonable person would have known Jane was “unable to consent.”

According to police reports, one of the women sent a two word message to a friend on social media that night — “help me.”

John Doe recorded the sexual assault and sent the videos to others without Jane’s consent, according to the lawsuit.

Neither police documents or the lawsuit provide details on who contacted authorities after the alleged rape.

Furman University officers Michael Banner and Trevor Whitfield investigated the incident. Jane Roe and her friend told police they had been drugged and sexually assaulted.

The female students told the two officers they were worried they would get expelled from Bob Jones University because they drank alcohol that night.

Whitfield then immediately contacted Bob Jones University officials and told on them for drinking that night, according to the lawsuit.

Then, Whitfield shamed the two women for consuming alcohol, saying that as a Bob Jones alumnus himself, he was disappointed in them, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claims Whitfield’s behavior was out of line and showed a “reckless disregard” for the victim’s rights, considering he was speaking to two traumatized students who had just been sexually assaulted.

According to the lawsuit and the SLED investigation, the two officers told the women they could either go to jail for underage drinking or go to the hospital.

Roe chose not to go to the hospital at the time, but went back later that day for a sexual forensic exam.

That day, Deneen Lawson, Bob Jones’ Dean of Women, tried to speak with Jane Roe about her alleged drinking while she was at the hospital for a rape exam.

Lawson couldn’t find Jane Roe while she was at the hospital, but immediately contacted her and scheduled a meeting.

A few hours later, Lawson told Jane Roe she was expelled from Bob Jones. Jane was kicked out of school less than 24 hours after she was raped, according to the lawsuit.

“Bob Jones made the decision to expel (Jane Roe) without investigating the allegations against her, conducting any type of fact-finding investigation, or holding any type of hearing,” the lawsuit said.

In March, Randy Page, chief of staff at Bob Jones, told FITSNews that the two female students were suspended – but not expelled – from campus and they could reapply for the fall 2020 term.

According to SLED reports, the two women ultimately were “suspended from Bob Jones for lying … and drinking alcohol.”

At this point, it’s unclear if they were suspended or expelled.

The lawsuit claims that this incident is not unique to the Furman University football program — that it’s “well known” the footballl players engage in this type of behavior “plying young and often underage female college students with alcohol and drugs before recklessly engaging in sexual encounters with them.”

What the football players told SLED

Furman football players told police a much different story, FITSNews founding editor Will Folks previously reported.

Devin Wynn, a 6-foot-0, 230-pound tailback from Greensboro, Georgia, was interviewed by SLED during the course of the investigation. So was Davonta Porter, a 6-foot-2, 214-pound defensive back from Latta, S.C.

Also interviewed was Adrian Hope, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound bandit linebacker from Ocala, Florida – as were scout team running back Jeff McElveen of North Charleston, S.C. and scout team defensive tackle London Lewis of Atlanta, Georgia, according to SLED documents.

According to Wynn, Porter “told him two females wanted to come over” on the early morning in question. Porter met one of the women on Tinder and had connected with her on Snapchat.

At one point, according to Wynn, during the women’s visit to the room one of them “got on top of Porter, kissed him, and touched him sexually.”

She then asked Porter where his bedroom was and “pulled him off the couch,” according to SLED documents.

“I’m pretty sure my friend is back there having sex,” one of the women stated to Wynn as the other went into the bedroom with Porter, police documents said.

According to the report, at one point Wynn claimed “the females wanted to go outside without their tops on.” The two players “told them they could not do that, but they tried to go outside anyway.”

Porter and Wynn claim that they “tried to get the females to lie down on Porter’s bed and go to sleep,” but that the women were too wild,” according to SLED documents.

Eventually, Wynn stated that he went back upstairs to another room but shortly thereafter received a call from Porter who told him he could “not handle both of the females,” a police report said.

Porter provided multiple statements to investigators, some of them conflicting statements. It is also clear from the report that Porter had independent contact with Furman police personnel while the SLED investigation was ongoing.

In early February, Furman University officials confirmed that there would be no charges in the case due to lack of evidence, FITSNews previously reported.

“There was a thorough investigation by SLED into alleged sexual assaults on the Furman University campus,” S.C. thirteenth circuit solicitor Walt Wilkins told this news outlet. “There was not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any sexual assault occurred – in fact, all of the statements from (the) alleged victims indicated the sex acts were consensual.”

The Lawsuit

The lawsuit claims Furman University, Furman University Police, officer Trevor Whitfield, Bob Jones University, and John Doe,” were negligent and reckless in the incident and each partially responsible for causing Jane Roe’s injuries.

Specifically, the lawsuit accused Furman of failing to adequately investigate her case and allowing “Furman football players’ conduct to continue unchecked, even with knowledge of prior similar events.

Jane Roe also accuses Furman, Furman Police Department, and Bob Jones of failing to hire competent and fit employees.

Greenville attorneys Joshua Hawkins, and Helena L. Jedziniak, are representing Jane Roe in the case.

As we noted in a previous post, state representative Mandy Powers Norrell of Lancaster, S.C. has been pushing for the past year to require campus safety and security departments at private colleges and universities to serve as the “legal custodians” of records related to criminal inquiries – and to “make these records available for inspection.” Last March, Norrell introduced a bill – H. 4208 – that would specifically provide for the disclosure of “records related to criminal investigations and criminal intelligence.”

“Private colleges should be subject to the same rules as public colleges when it comes to disclosure of sexual assaults they investigate,” Norrell (above) told this news outlet back in December. “Parents and students should have this information easily available when they’re evaluating the relative safety of a college. I understand that no college wants prospective students and families to think of it as unsafe, but they deserve that information.”

Norrell’s proposed legislation stemmed from Furman’s previous handling of other sexual assault claims, which were first reported in a March 2019 investigative story by Matt Moore of WYFF TV 4 (NBC – Greenville/ Spartanburg, S.C.).

According to Moore’s report, multiple students claimed that “Furman University mishandled their sexual assault investigations.” One of those led to a federal lawsuit.

-Will Folks contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: The lawsuit incorrectly named Bob Jones’ Dean of Women as Deenan Wilson. We have updated this story to reflect that her name is Deenan Lawson

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].

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