Only days after Obama announced the formation of a federal task force on sexual assault, three students have alleged that Columbia University may have mishandled repeated accusations of rape against a former athlete. According to a story by the Blue and White, a student publication, three women separately brought charges of sexual violence against the same student. One woman reportedly never got a hearing, while a second saw her case drag out for seven months as her alleged rapist delayed his hearing due to “academic conflicts,” according to the Blue and White. Columbia’s official policy on gender-based and sexual misconduct (PDF) states that the school will attempt to conclude all sexual assault cases within 60 days.
One of the women, speaking under the pseudonym Sara, told a reporter for the Blue and White that the alleged rapist was a friend with whom she’d had consensual sex before. One night, after drinking at a party, she said he followed her back to her room and quickly grew aggressive. Sara told the Blue and White that her assailant, “Tom,” “grabbed her wrists and pinned her arms behind her head. She said that he pushed her legs against her chest and forcefully penetrated her anus…Sara said she began to struggle, screaming at him to stop, yelling at him to get off of her. He didn’t stop,” according the Blue and White. When Sara took her case before a panel of faculty members, she said she found them combative and insensitive. “Did he use lubrication? I don’t understand how it’s possible to have anal sex without using lubrication first,” one asked, according to the Blue and White report. Tom, whom the Blue and White says did not respond to requests for comment, was found “not responsible” for the allegations this past November, according to the Blue and White.