Two UMBC students expelled after sexual assault investigation

Two UMBC students expelled after sexual assault investigation.

Two University of Maryland, Baltimore County students have been expelled for violating the student code of conduct after an investigation into the alleged sexual assault of another student in August, school officials have confirmed.

No one was criminally charged in the case because Baltimore County detectives determined there was not evidence that a crime had occurred, police said. The woman who made the complaint told investigators she had been drinking heavily the night of the alleged assault and did not remember most of the evening, according to police documents.

An attorney for the woman said she feels that police did not take her allegations seriously. The Baltimore Sun does not name victims of alleged sexual assault.

UMBC did not release the names of the students or other details of the case, citing federal privacy laws. Officials declined to specify how the students violated the code of conduct.

In December, county police and school officials said they were investigating what they called at the time "a suspicious incident" that occurred in August. According to heavily redacted reports recently released by county police and obtained by The Sun, that incident was an alleged gang rape of a female student by four male students in a dorm.

University spokeswoman Dinah Winnick confirmed that two students were dismissed after disciplinary proceedings related to that incident.

"Most often federal privacy law pertaining to student records and our ethic of care for our students' well-being and privacy prohibit us from sharing information about specific cases," Winnick said in an email. "However, in this case the law enables us to share that our disciplinary proceedings have resulted in the dismissal of two students."

Attorney Laura Dunn, founder and executive director of the national organization SurvJustice, which advocates for survivors of sexual violence, is representing the woman.

The woman is "happy the campus investigated and took this seriously," Dunn said. "That's not something you see at every school."

But the woman feels county police didn't thoroughly investigate, Dunn said. For instance, the police only interviewed three of the four men accused, Dunn said. They also did not pull "swipe records" that show who entered and left the building where the alleged assault happened — a step the school took in its investigation, according to Dunn.

County police officials say they thoroughly investigated the complaint.

"No one was charged in this case because after extensive investigation our detectives determined that a crime did not occur," police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said in an email. "The case was sent to the State's Attorney for review, and he also concurred that a crime did not occur."

Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said he could not comment in detail on the case, except to say "there was insufficient evidence to go forward."

According to a county police report, the woman reported the rape in December. She said someone told her in October that he had heard that four students had sex with her on the night of a party in August.

The police report shows that when the accused students were interviewed, they described what happened that night as a consensual sexual encounter. A county detective told the woman "that the alleged suspects provided a detailed description of the sexual encounter," and that the woman would have needed to be conscious to participate. The detective also told her she made inconsistent statements, the report said.

At that point, the woman told investigators she didn't want the students she accused to get into trouble, and that her father had insisted she report the incident to police.

In a statement released through Dunn, the woman's father criticized the police for releasing information to the media about the case, and said the legal system doesn't do its due diligence, discouraging victims from coming forward.

Dunn said it was not unusual for survivors of an assault to change their minds about whether they want charges filed.

"A lot of survivors just want an explanation, more so than they want a prosecution," she said.

The woman had previously been friends with the men she accused, Dunn said.

"It's very hard and confusing when it's someone you know and trust," Dunn said.

alisonk@baltsun.com

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