Former pupil who reported rape says faculty betrayed her

71


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The warnings got here in textual content messages from her buddies: He’s exterior the dorm. He’s on the pupil heart. He’s at Starbucks.

However for Alicia Gonzales, generally it didn’t matter the place he was. She would usually disguise away in her room on the campus of Marshall College, overcome with concern that she’d run into him — or be subjected to his ridicule — even after reporting that he raped her on college grounds, and even after he was convicted of battery. Months later, she left the varsity altogether.

“Each time I noticed him, it was horrible for me,” she instructed The Related Press on Friday. “It was nearly like I used to be in that very same frame of mind, reliving the assault itself and the way fearful I used to be. I simply felt like I used to be helpless.”

The Related Press doesn’t usually establish sexual assault victims, however Gonzales has chosen to be recognized.

Marshall has expelled 22-year-old Joseph Chase Hardin amid new rape accusations involving two further ladies and renewed scrutiny of the West Virginia college’s dealing with of Gonzales’ February 2016 case. The expulsion caps a prolonged disciplinary course of throughout which Hardin was allowed to be on campus, in line with Gonzales’ ongoing federal lawsuit in opposition to the college.

A spokeswoman for the faculty stated it adopted state legislation and federal rules in its dealing with of Gonzales’ case, including that it “took each authorized measure out there to it to guard the rights of all events all through the method.”

In asserting Hardin’s expulsion, College President Jerome A. Gilbert launched a press release saying, “The security of our college students is our first obligation.”

Hardin was indicted and jailed final week on second-degree sexual assault fees associated to 2 alleged rapes in 2018. A choose ordered Hardin to stay jailed Wednesday at a court docket listening to for violating probation from the sooner case. He was led into the courtroom in an orange jumpsuit and turned his face away from TV information cameras educated on him from the gallery.

His lawyer, Kerry A. Nessel, stated his consumer maintains his innocence.

“He denies the whole lot,” Nessel stated. “To me, it’s only a he stated/she stated scenario.”

Gonzales described a sample of harassment by Hardin and his buddies after the alleged rape. She stated they mocked her on social media and as soon as waited for her exterior her on-campus job and sneered as she emerged. Hardin even wore one in all her headbands at a basketball sport to taunt her, she stated.

“I felt utterly betrayed by the college and I felt like I had completely no safety all through it,” she stated.

Gonzales stated the assault occurred in the midst of a faculty day in a dormitory room on campus. When she first reported the assault, the faculty expelled Hardin, however he was in a position to stay on campus throughout an attraction course of, in line with Gonzales’ swimsuit. The varsity didn’t implement restrictions to stop her from encountering Hardin, it added.

Marshall then assembled a pupil conduct panel, earlier than which she was aggressively cross-examined by Hardin’s personal attorneys, the swimsuit says. She had no lawyer current. After the panel cleared Hardin, he winked at her and threw his fist into the air in celebration, Gonzales stated.

Faculty directors then reviewed the listening to course of and suspended Hardin from campus grounds till his felony case was resolved. He unsuccessfully appealed that call however was allowed to return after he entered what’s known as a Kennedy plea to a battery cost and was given three years’ probation after having initially been charged with sexual assault.

In a Kennedy plea, which is analogous to what’s known as an Alford plea in different states, a defendant maintains his or her innocence however acknowledges there’s proof that may lead a choose or jury to achieve a responsible verdict. Court docket paperwork says that upon getting into the plea, he was judged responsible.
The entire course of took a few yr.

The newer fees of sexual assault in opposition to Hardin contain alleged rapes of two ladies final yr within the county the place Marshall College is positioned, in line with an indictment. Marshall spokeswoman Leah Payne stated the newer fees didn’t happen on campus and didn’t contain the varsity’s police division.

Gonzales, 22, now attends a university in Pennsylvania, the place she research psychology. She stated she hopes to turn out to be a victims advocate after commencement. She was relieved to listen to Hardin was expelled.

“That makes me really feel like a minimum of some a part of the neighborhood is now protected,” she stated.