Benjamin Holm has been attending Loyola University in Chicago for the last three years while playing for their golf team. In early December, he was convicted of rape and sentenced to ten years in prison, ten on probation. Students are shocked and angry he was on campus at all.
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that Holm’s conviction is part of a plea deal that he accepted while the jury was deliberating on his case. Holm raped a 15-year-old when he was 18, and was initially charged with statutory rape. Investigators at the Fulton County Solicitor and District Attorney’s offices reviewed the case and decided it should actually be a rape charge based on witness accounts:
On the night of April 27, 2013, several teenagers attended a party at a home in the Country Club of the South development, according to a police report. From there, several teens walked to a playground area within the gated community.
“There were boys and alcohol at the playground, and she voluntarily consumed an unknown amount of vodka,” the Johns Creek police report states.
Three of the victim’s friends were worried when they couldn’t find her and went to the playground, Byers said. The friends said they found Holm on top of the drunk teen, whose pants were down.
“They observed the sexual assault taking place and heard her clearly saying ‘No, stop,’” Byers said.
While Holm surrendered to the police in May of 2013, he was released on $3,500 bail. However, all that investigation into the circumstances of Holm’s crime and the multiple offices that took it under review meant that Holm was able to graduate high school and move on to attend Loyola before his case went to trial. He wasn’t even indicted until April of 2015, and the trial finally commenced on November 28, 2016.
When students of Loyola University discovered that Holm was on trial for rape, there was an outcry, including a Change.org petition demanding an apology from the administration for staying silent about the charges he was facing. The Title IX coordinator, Thomas M. Kelly, released a statement on December 16, that reads in part:
In the past few days, Loyolans have expressed concern following media reports related to a student-athlete who was charged and pled guilty to a gender-based violent crime that occurred in his home state of Georgia. This crime occurred prior to the individual joining Loyola. To our knowledge, we neither received information about the crime, nor had any awareness that it occurred until Monday, December 12, when we received a media inquiry. Based on media reports, the individual is in police custody in Georgia. The individual is not registered for classes in the Spring Semester.
Violence of any kind is not tolerated at Loyola, and the safety and security of all members of our campus community remain a top priority.
Kelly adds, “Our focus is your safety and well-being, and please know that we continuously look for new and additional ways to stem gender-based violence and to protect and empower those who report it.”
The AJC states that Holm received a golf scholarship during his senior year at Loyola, an aspect of the case that has particularly infuriated petitioners. However, the school’s paper, The Loyola Phoenix, says that the athletic department has refused to share information on Holm’s scholarships, if there were any made to him during his time as a student.