A woman who says she was twice raped by a classmate was left hiding in her accommodation and ended up dropping out of university after the man was allowed to continue his studies. Photo / 123RF
* Content Warning: This article is about sexual assault and can be upsetting.
A student who, according to a university supervisor, had twice raped and physically assaulted another student received a written reprimand and was allowed to continue his studies.
The victim complained to the University of Auckland about both sexual assaults, as well as several other attacks, including her rapist covering her face with a pillow so she couldn’t breathe when she confronted him.
The college proctor acknowledged it had happened, reprimanded the man and told him not to contact the woman. But eight months after his complaint, he is still studying at university.
Are the students safe? Sexual Violence, Bullying and Harassment at Top Kiwi Universities
However, the woman had to drop out of school and return to her home country after being severely depressed.
It was only last week that the university told the woman in a letter that the man would face a disciplinary committee for his actions – a day after the Herald began asking questions on Sunday.
In that letter, the university acknowledged a failure in its disciplinary procedures, saying the proctor had no authority to resolve such a serious case and should have been referred to the university’s disciplinary committee.
In the letter, the university said the invigilator had accepted that last year the man, who was staying in the same hall of residence as the woman, had sex with her when she was too drunk to consent.
The woman told the Herald on Sunday that at the time the couple were in the same group of friends and she gave them the benefit of the doubt. “I didn’t know him very well and didn’t want to believe he would do anything wrong.”
Later that year, the couple briefly dated. Meanwhile, the woman says he again had sex with her without consent.
The letter said the prosecutor had confirmed the allegation that the man “had had sexual intercourse with [the victim] without consent as she told him to stop and pushed him away from her, but he resumed the act”.
He added that when the victim later “attempted to confront [the student] …he held a pillow over her face so she couldn’t breathe”.
The supervisor also admitted that the man had touched her without her consent while she was trying to sleep, and on another occasion when he was drunk he had “pinned her to her bed and wouldn’t let her not leave”.
The Herald contacted the man on Sunday, but declined to comment.
The woman filed a complaint with the university, but claims the man stayed in his residence hall for several weeks before he was asked to leave.
Meanwhile, she was too scared to leave her room in case she bumped into him. Traumatized and severely depressed, unable to continue her studies in the second semester, she sought help from the Proctor’s office and Campus Care.
She says she was recommended to move to her family’s country so they can help her deal with the trauma. But she believed the university would make no exception for her to continue her education in a way that would allow her to pursue a career in medicine.
But a university spokeswoman told the Herald on Sunday: ‘The university does not believe she recommended that she return home, but we certainly understood her decision to return to a place where she felt safe. and supported.Unfortunately, the papers she was enrolled in might not be completed overseas.She was advised of ways to go into medicine at a later date.
Heartbroken, the woman left New Zealand.
In October, she received a letter saying the university had agreed that “on a balance of probabilities” the man had violated the student code. He would receive a written reprimand and be prohibited from contacting her.
It has also been suggested that he take a course on “creating cultures of consent and respect”.
This letter “devastated” her, the woman said. “While I was home in therapy…he was able to finish the school year and go about his life as if nothing had happened.”
And the man continued to contact the woman after she left the country, in violation of the non-contact agreement. The Sunday Herald heard a recording of a phone call in which the man admitted to raping her.
“But you admit you raped me,” she says in the recording.
“It’s kinda – it’s technically rape, yeah,” he says.
Police define rape as sex without consent – noting that a person cannot agree to sex if they are too drunk to consent or refuse.
The woman says she immediately sent the recording to the invigilator’s office, who said he would refer the matter to the disciplinary committee, which has the power to deregister students.
“It seemed like a good thing because I thought it would finally mean he would have consequences for his actions and I could get justice for myself,” she said.
Four months later, she says she was given a court date – but was told the committee would only look into whether the man had broken the no-contact rule. He would not reopen the rape investigation because that case was already “solved”.
Frustrated, feeling hopeless, she contacted the Herald on Sunday.
“The whole reason I went through this process was that there would be consequences for his actions so it never happened to another girl again,” she said.
The Sunday Herald asked the university questions last week. The next day, the university wrote to the woman to say that the invigilator’s original decision was incorrect and that the disciplinary committee would reopen the case.
University rules required the Discipline Committee to hear cases that were serious or could lead to the cancellation of a student’s registration.
“Your complaint against [the man] reaches this threshold. The overseer does not have the power under law to resolve such cases through a written reprimand, which she claimed to do.”
The university’s registrar had overruled the invigilator’s decision and a disciplinary hearing would take place “as soon as reasonably possible”.
A spokeswoman told the Herald on Sunday: “The university has acknowledged that this process was not properly handled and has apologized to the student for this. We cannot comment further while the disciplinary process is In progress.”
The disciplinary hearing is set for Wednesday. The woman is also considering filing a complaint with the police against the man.
Sexual Abuse – Where to Get Help
If it is an emergency and you think you or someone else is in danger, call 111.
If you have ever been the victim of sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, anytime, 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email email@example.com
• For more information or to chat visit safetotalk.nz
You can also contact your local police station – click here for a list.
If you’ve been sexually assaulted, remember that it’s not your fault.