UNC Sophomore Publicly Accuses Football Player of Rape – and Says the School Treated Her Like the Suspect
A sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill claimed she was raped by a school football player – and that school officials and authorities have yet to hold him accountable
A sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this week publicly alleged she was raped by one of the school’s football players – and that school officials have yet to hold him accountable.
Delaney Robinson, the latest in the recent history of high-profile sexual assault accusations in many of America’s schools, said this week she was underage drinking at a party on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, at a campus apartment when she was raped by linebacker Allen Artis.
“My life has changed forever, while the person who assaulted me remains as a student and as a football player on this campus,” the 19-year-old explained at a news conference Tuesday in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her lawyer and father beside her.
School officials however say they take her allegations “very seriously,” and the local district attorney says that the investigation of her case is ongoing. Citing privacy laws, the university declined to comment further.
Robinson said that she first reported her rape to a sexual assault nurse at a hospital, and that she also told UNC’s Department of Public Safety, the Orange County District Attorney’s office and the university’s Title IX office.
Robinson said that while she worked with the university’s DPS – who conducted the investigation – no action has been taken against her alleged rapist.
“I did everything a rape victim is supposed to do,” she said. “I reported it. I allowed the rape kit to be taken. I gave a statement. I cooperated with law enforcement and the Title IX office.
“But six months later, the university has done nothing.”
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This is not the first time UNC has been criticized for how it approached sexual assault cases. According to The News & Observer, “Five women, including a former UNC administrator, [in 2013] filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging that the university mishandled sexual assault cases.”
Their complaint is pending, according to the paper. (The university later revised its policies on sexual assault and misconduct.)
Following Robinson’s news conference, the Orange County Magistrate’s Office issued a warrant for Artis’ arrest on one misdemeanor assault charge and one misdemeanor sexual battery charge.
Robinson had appealed to the magistrate’s office directly for the self-sworn warrant, pointing to what she called the inaction of local authorities.
North Carolina’s state law allows its residents to pursue criminal charges individually following a magistrate’s finding of probable cause – though as a matter of convention most magistrates will not issue felony warrants in such cases.
Artis turned himself in to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, accompanied by his attorney Sam Coleman, authorities said. He was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond and was scheduled to appear in Orange County District Court Wednesday afternoon.
His hearing was later continued to Sept. 29, according to NBC News. It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea to his charges.
Team officials said Artis was suspended from the team as of Tuesday, per university policy.
Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall tells PEOPLE that while his office isn’t the investigating office in Robinson’s case, they are consulting with UNC law enforcement. Contrary to Robinson’s statements, Woodall says, the investigation is still active – and toxicology reports are outstanding.
“The UNC Department of Public Safety was not comfortable at that time bringing charges,” Woodall explains. “In our discussions with them, we didn’t see anything in the evidence that saw us to question that decision. Because it is their decision if they were going to bring charges.
“We can certainly bring charges on our own, but they’re the investigating agency. And in the great, great majority of cases, the investigating agency brings the charges.”
Speaking generally, Woodall also pointed to North Carolina law as it directs this case.
“In a sexual assault case, if you don’t remember what happened but you voluntarily got drunk, then you’ve got to show not only you were mentally incapacitated – you’d have to show that you were physically helpless or that forced was used,” Woodall says.
“The idea that ‘I can’t remember what happened to me’ in and of itself is not sufficient in a sexual assault case under the law,” Woodall says. “There’d have to be something else. There’d have to be force. There’d have to be physical helplessness.”
Robinson alleges she was “mentally incapacitated” in the warrant sworn out against Artis.
Her attorney, Denise Branch, said Tuesday a prosecutor from Woodall’s office emailed her in August saying they would not pursue criminal charges, citing the findings of university law enforcement, according to the Associated Press.
Branch also brought a picture to the news conference of what she said was bruising that Robinson suffered during the night of the assault.
A Problem Bigger Than Her Own
Robinson said her news conference wasn’t just about helping her get justice – she also wanted to inspire change for how other sexual assault and rape victims are treated.
She said the treatment she received by authorities framed her as the criminal, and investigators asked her “consistently demeaning and accusatory questions.”
“‘What was I wearing?’ ” Robinson said, as one example. “‘Did I lead him on?’ ‘Have I hooked up with him before?’ ‘Did I often have one-night-stands?’ ‘Did I even say no?’ ‘What is my sexual history?’ ‘How many men have a slept with?’ I was treated like a suspect.”
She also claimed the questioning she received was far different than the questioning Artis received – which she said she was able to view in video recordings from the university file.
“My humiliation turned to anger when I listened to the recorded interviews of my rapist by [the Department of Public Safety],” Robinson said. “Rather than accusing him of anything, the investigators spoke to him with a tone of camaraderie. 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 he raped me. They told him, ‘Don’t sweat it – just keep on living your life and playing football.’ ”
She continued: “I’m taking this public stand not for me, but for the other students on campus who are not protected, despite what the university tells us. I love this university. It’s my home. I plan on graduating. But I expect the university to fulfill its promises to me and to all students.”
Branch supported Robin’s statements.
“We’re here today to share Delaney’s story in the hope that real effective change will take place going forward,” Branch said Tuesday. “Change that ensures that rape victims are treated with respect and understanding and that the rapists are held accountable for their actions.”
“She’s here to ensure that we don’t send students to campus with two separate expectations for behavior,” Branch continued. “That attackers and would-be attackers are told they’re not responsible for their actions when they’ve been drinking, but yet victims and would-be victims are told they’re responsible for what happens to them if they have been drinking.”
The University of North Carolina Responds
In response to Robinson’s news conference, UNC Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs Joel Curran issued a statement that “while the University is aware of allegations made today … under federal privacy law we are prohibited from responding.”
“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,” Curran said.
“These matters are complex and often involve multiple agencies including law enforcement,” he said. “While the University always tries to complete an investigation as quickly as possible, our priority is to ensure that the factual investigations are complete and conducted in a fair and thorough manner.”
UNC head football coach Larry Fedora said that he was aware of what was happening, he “cannot comment on either the allegation or the investigative process.”
“We take these matters very seriously and are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities,” he said a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach Artis, Branch, Coleman or the Orange County Magistrate for comment.