Three James Madison University Sigma Chi fraternity members who filmed themselves sexually assaulting a woman on spring break and then distributed the film to others via social media received quite the punishment from their college: a permanent ban from campus. After they graduate. What the fuck, James Madison University?
According to HuffPo, the truly stomach churning case (in a sea of horrible cases) involves a woman named Sarah Butters, who was in Florida on spring break with Sigma Chi brothers Mike Lunney, Jay Dertzbaugh and Nick Scallion in 2013. She says she doesn't remember the sexual assault, and found out about it after returning to campus and seeing the video.
While still in Florida, she said she learned of the video and confronted the men, who denied it. Once she returned to campus, she said she found that the video was being shared and discussed on an online gossip forum. Eventually, she got a copy.
The video features an intoxicated and topless Butters being passed between Lunney, Dertzbaugh, and Scallion, who are groping her and attempting to remove her bathing suit bottoms as she mumbles "This isn't okay. This isn't a good idea."
Seems like a pretty clear-cut case. But after seeing the recording, Josh Bacon, the James Madison University director of judicial affairs told Butters that it was impossible to say whether or not the encounter was consensual. Impossible to say! She's just kind of saying "this isn't okay" on video. Impossible to say!
Butters pushed forward with sexual assault allegations, armed with the video and text messages from friends who said they'd been sent the video and that it looked pretty rape-y (text messages via HuffPo).
After seeing the overwhelming evidence, in January, a university panel determined that Lunney, Dertzbaugh, and Scallion were indeed responsible for sexually assaulting Butters and punished them with expulsion — wait for it — after graduation. Which means that James Madison University believes that even sexually assaulting someone on film is not reason enough to kick someone out of school.
She appealed — as she damn well should have — and another hearing resulted in the assailants' immediate expulsion. But they appealed, and a third hearing reinstated the original verdict of the original panel. Expulsion after graduation. Two of them have already been awarded their degrees, and one is a rising senior.
Meanwhile, Butters, her grades depressed due to the stress and demands of the adjudication process, has lost her financial aid and withdrew from the university.
On April 30th, she filed a complaint with the US Department of Education, and the government is currently investigating this latest round of institutional fuckery from an institution of higher education. That brings the count of colleges and universities being investigated for botching handling sexual assaults to 63. Sixty-three. Almost enough to make an entire March Madness-style single-elimination tournament bracket.
College students need to stop raping each other for long enough for news of horrific rapes to sink in. Because I'm getting pretty damn numb over here.