The Project Safe Center, as photographed Sept. 27, 2021. (Hustler Multimedia/Claire Gatlin) (Claire Gatlin)
The Project Safe Center, as photographed Sept. 27, 2021. (Hustler Multimedia/Claire Gatlin)

Claire Gatlin

GUEST EDITORIAL: Vanderbilt Chose Not to Expel My Rapist

After finding my perpetrator responsible for “nonconsensual sexual penetration,” the most severe violation of Vanderbilt’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, he was not expelled.

January 17, 2022

Editor’s note: This piece contains mentions of sexual assault. The Hustler has elected to publish this story without the author’s full name to ensure her personal and professional protection while bringing an important story to our readers that would not otherwise be possible.

Author’s note: In this piece I refer to my perpetrator as “R” for Respondent, which is what he has been referred to throughout the Title IX process.

I am writing this piece to raise awareness of the hurdles I faced in the Title IX process. My goal is to urge change and improvement to Vanderbilt’s Title IX process, hopefully encouraging more survivors to report. The inherent shame around sexual assault prevents systemic problems from coming into the light and being addressed. It’s something nobody wants to talk about, which further perpetuates assaults and subsequent hesitancy to report. I hope my story can help future survivors. I love our school and want to help make it better.

On a Saturday in March 2021, I was raped by a Vanderbilt student who was a complete stranger to me. More than eight months after filing a Formal Complaint, I received the final determination of my Title IX hearing, despite an intended 90 business day process from start to finish. He was found responsible for “nonconsensual sexual penetration.” 

Yet despite the process finding him responsible for the most serious violation of Vanderbilt’s policy, and with the knowledge that I allegedly was not his first rape victim, he was not expelled.

Incident

During the early evening, after drinking too much, my friends and I headed to the bars. The next thing I remember is being driven to Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) to get a rape kit later that night. The rest of my understanding of this night has unfolded through a series of interviews conducted by the Title IX investigator. It’s painful to read about the events surrounding my assault: from my friends scrambling to find me, witnesses who interacted with us and my perpetrator’s own story, built to defend himself.

I first met R at a bar downtown. During our short time at the bar together, witnesses reported my rising level of intoxication and increasing confusion. One friend says I introduced R to her as a friend from home who was supposed to visit me the next day. Through the interviews, I learned that I was so confused and cognitively impaired that I repeatedly referred to R by this trusted friend’s name, when the reality was that I had no idea who R was. Even more disturbing is the fact that after repeatedly calling R the wrong name to his face, he took advantage of my confusion and incapacitation to assault me.

When my friends left to go to the bathroom, they returned to the bar to find that I had left with R. They began to panic. While R and I were in an Uber back to my dorm, I stopped responding to calls. My extremely concerned friends were able to get R’s number from a mutual friend and began calling him directly. During the Uber ride, two individuals successfully made contact with R to convey the same message, one of them explicitly remembers telling him “Fran is so intoxicated, and you’re not telling her that you are not this person. When you guys get home, you need to drop her off at her dorm. Don’t go into her room. She doesn’t need that. She’s got friends who will meet her and help her. And do not have sex with her.”

This was only minutes before he raped me. 

The calls continued the entire time R was in my dorm, totaling 40 phone calls and FaceTimes between both of our phones. A photo I took in my bathroom shows me from the shoulders up. I am naked, my face is red and distorted and it is clear that I am sobbing. According to R’s statements, sexual activity occurred just before I went into the bathroom and again when I came out. 

Almost immediately after the assault, R left my room. I called my sister, crying hysterically and told her verbatim “I was just raped and I don’t know by who.” She added my mom to the call, where I apologized for calling her “in the middle of the night,” even though it wasn’t even 9 p.m. I told my mom and sister “I have no idea who he is.” This call was among my mom’s worst nightmares. 

We decided I should go to the emergency room to get a rape kit. 

One of my friends came to my room to help me get ready to go to the hospital. She watched me cry while I put on sweatshirt after sweatshirt, sweatpants after sweatpants, changing my clothes over and over in hopes that the feelings of violation my body carried might go away with each new set of clothes I put on. It didn’t. 

I spent nine hours in the hospital that night. I had to take my clothes off to be examined, had uncomfortable photos taken of me, multiple swabs of various parts of my body, received shots in my buttocks that hurt for days and was given many medicines for various STDs. I was advised to take two HIV prevention medications for 30 days, which caused debilitating side effects on top of everything else.  

I was told my dorm was a crime scene; my body was the evidence.

Impact 

This horrific night was just the beginning of the nightmare that would become my life for the next nine months. My mom flew out the next morning to be in Nashville with me while my dad stayed at home with my three brothers and had to tell them what had happened. In the days following the incident, I barely ate or slept. I relied heavily on the resources, support and advocacy provided by Project Safe. I don’t know how I would have made it through these early days without them. I began to struggle with my mental health and spent the rest of the semester bouncing between Nashville and North Carolina where I attended therapy and leaned on my family for support. 

At school, I wasn’t able to sleep in my dorm room by myself; I either had a friend stay with me or stayed in a friend’s room every night. The crime scene was not conducive to sleeping, studying or healing. I switched rooms three weeks before the spring semester ended. Although I could now stay in my room alone, I continued to struggle with nightmares, panic attacks and other symptoms of PTSD and still have days where getting out of bed is the most I can manage.

My education, the whole reason I am at Vanderbilt, is no longer my top priority. I’ve withdrawn from classes and taken incompletes in others. I am no longer going to graduate on time. I have spent hours almost every day attending meetings and interviews, making phone calls and writing Title IX emails, not allowing me to focus on school or on healing. 

In the weeks following the assault, my friends described me as “a ghost,” a “shell of a person.” I became uncomfortable around alcohol and large groups of people and began avoiding many social situations. My relationships with those closest to me became strained as we each struggled to process this trauma in our own ways.

Word spread around campus almost overnight about what had happened. While I was thankful for the kindness and support shown by others, this did not take away from how violating it was to know that my classmates and peers, people I barely knew, were talking about the most traumatizing event of my life.

Title IX Process: Spring & Summer

The day after the incident, as a result of my hospital visit, Vanderbilt sent out an email notifying all students that a sexual assault had occurred on campus the night prior. In the days following the incident, I was told R had hired an entire legal team including private investigators. Still in shock, I, on the other hand, had not even processed everything that had happened and didn’t file a Formal Complaint with Title IX until several days later. This was the start of the nearly yearlong process to hold my perpetrator accountable. 

In the next few months, the Vanderbilt Title IX investigator assigned to my case conducted interviews of myself, R and witnesses he deemed relevant. 

Given that I really did not want to go to school with my rapist and realized the Title IX process would not be complete by the start of the Fall 2021 semester, I decided to accept R’s request to attempt an Informal Resolution in June. Recently added to Vanderbilt’s policy as an option under new Title IX regulations, Informal Resolution provides the Complainant and Respondent the opportunity to come to a compromise on what they would accept as a resolution in order to avoid the time and trauma involved in a Formal Hearing.

The Title IX office did not provide me with any details about what to expect beyond saying it would be a daylong “facilitated dialogue” that would take place on Zoom. I was also informed it would be a month before the Informal Resolution could take place and the formal process would be put on hold during this time, resulting in a month of inactivity in my case. I requested to share what my non-negotiables would be ahead of time so as to not delay the formal process if there was no chance of coming to an agreement. These included voluntary withdrawal from Vanderbilt, a note in his Code of Conduct and mandatory therapy. My request to share this information in advance was denied.

Although I am prohibited from sharing details of what took place in the Informal Resolution, we were unable to come to an agreement and I withdrew from the process, with the Formal Investigation resuming the next day. Under its current structure, I would not recommend the stressful, unproductive and upsetting Informal Resolution process to any victim of a serious violation. 

Vanderbilt should not allow the discussion of criminal charges to be part of any Informal Resolution agreement. Additionally, the process needs to be improved so parties are not left staring at blank Zoom screens for hours with no communication. I regret that I wasted four weeks waiting for a day that did not have a chance of working.

As the start of the Fall 2021 semester quickly approached, the Formal Investigation had resumed, but I had received no updates from Title IX regarding progress in my case. I debated returning to school, not wanting to encounter R but also yearning to return to some sense of normalcy. My parents debated their willingness to pay tuition given the circumstances. After reaching out to Title IX multiple times, I was informed that R was not only enrolled in one of my classes, but would also likely be living in the same building that I was planning to live in, although they could not tell me for sure. After expressing my concern about being in the same class and dorm as my rapist, the Title IX office’s solution was to have me switch classes as well as change dorms, isolating me from my entire support system. Yet again, the system had placed the burden on me.

Finally, with less than two weeks before the start of classes, the Title IX office started making progress in my case and I finally received answers to my questions. I was given a timeline with an estimated date for the release of the Preliminary Report. I was finally given a copy of my interview transcript, which had been conducted months prior, to review for accuracy. I was also told R would not be on campus in the fall, resulting in my decision to return.

Title IX Process: Fall

On the Friday after the first full week of classes, I received the Preliminary Investigative Report for my case. The report was over 1,000 pages. This was the first time I learned many details of my assault and was forced to relive much of the trauma.

Upon receiving the Preliminary Report, I was given only 10 calendar days to submit a maximum 10 page (double spaced) response. All of my witnesses who had been contacted agreed to participate in the process, which was amazing. However, I was shocked to find that many of the witnesses that I suggested the investigator talk to were never interviewed. I then had to fight for these witnesses to be interviewed, not knowing at the time that several would become key witnesses. It is so upsetting to think how different the outcome could’ve been if I hadn’t fought to prove these witnesses were relevant. 

Because participation in the Title IX process is optional, all but two of R’s witnesses simply declined to participate, with only one providing any relevant information. Despite confirming certain calls and texts, R did not share any of his phone records from that day. It became clear how nearly impossible it would be to continue navigating the system on my own.

At this time, now more than five months after the assault and having just received the 1,000+ page report, my family made the decision to hire a private Title IX attorney. R had been utilizing private counsel since the beginning of the process, while I had relied on the advisor Vanderbilt was required to provide free of charge. While the advisor answered questions I had about the Title IX process, she was not actively engaged in the details and review of my case or documents, leaving the majority of the work to be done by me and my family. Additionally, because Vanderbilt is the one paying these advisors, I wondered if there was a limit to the amount of time she could spend on my case. I truly believe that if I had not been fortunate enough to afford a private attorney of the same caliber as R’s (both Harvard Law School graduates), it is unlikely he would have been found responsible. It is now clear to me that the system in place favors those who can afford private attorneys.

After the submission of my response to the Preliminary Report, it was back to waiting. On Oct. 5, I received the Final Investigative Report. Once again, I was given only 10 days to submit a response to this report, again over a thousand pages. On Oct. 11, our pre-hearing conference took place. This was also the last day to submit our witness lists of who we would like to be present at the hearing. At this time, I learned through my peers of another student who also said she had been raped by R. Although she did not want to pursue the Title IX process on her own, she asked to be added to my witness list in hopes of strengthening my case and proving that this was a pattern of behavior. I submitted my new witness list along with a statement she wrote summarizing her incident. Two days later, I was notified that, due to the nature of my new witness, my hearing was going to be postponed for four more weeks.

As other students scrambled to finish up assignments the week before Thanksgiving, I was preparing for my hearing, wishing I could be stressing about school like all my classmates. I spent the Sunday before my hearing prepping with my advisor. We made a plan to put sticky notes over R’s picture on Zoom so I wouldn’t have to look at him. On Monday morning, R and I were questioned by the adjudicator as well as cross-examined by each other’s advisors. Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday, witnesses were questioned and cross-examined. 

During the cross-examination, I was pounded with questions by R’s attorney that felt like they were meant to invalidate me. I was asked hypothetical questions I assume were meant to avoid the Rape Shield Law, which prevents victims from being questioned about their sexual history. I was asked about things they knew I couldn’t remember. No, I don’t remember saying no; I don’t remember him restricting my ability to move from my room or bed; I don’t remember receiving all those phone calls; I don’t remember crying. No, I do not frequently drink this much alcohol. Yes, I appear to be walking up the stairs to my room unassisted based on a several second clip.

Hearing Determination

On Dec. 3, over eight months after the incident, I received the final hearing determination. 

R was found responsible for “nonconsensual sexual penetration.” 

The disciplinary sanction: suspension until the last day of the Spring 2024 semester. 

These two findings alone were enough to spark a range of emotions. I was so relieved that he had been found responsible. On the other hand, it was infuriating that Vanderbilt would allow a rapist to return to campus after my intended graduation date. It was as if they believed I was part of the problem and that when I left campus he would no longer be a threat. Nevermind the fact that I had never interacted with him prior to the incident, that it could have been anyone that day, that it could be anyone when he returns to campus in two years. The suspension will be wiped from his academic record when his suspension period is complete.

While the experience of being raped will follow me forever, Vanderbilt is allowing R to erase any trace of his wrongdoings from his academic record after just over two years. 

As I spent more time combing through the 37-page determination report and 500-page appendix, it became clear that the disciplinary sanction was not the only miscarriage of justice. 

One of the final sentences of the report reads, “While Respondent’s severe level of intoxication does not excuse his misconduct under the Policy, I find it does mitigate my view of the severity of his conduct because the evidence does not establish malintent or an intentional disregard of Complainant’s lack of consent.” 

It is quite literally written into Vanderbilt’s Sexual Misconduct Policy that “the intoxication of a respondent does not excuse the failure to obtain effective consent,” yet here was the adjudicator claiming that the severity of R’s conduct was somehow lessened due to the fact that he had been consuming alcohol. Beyond reducing culpability because R claimed to be intoxicated that day, this statement implies that an individual can “accidentally” rape someone.

While this is egregious in any context, it is especially infuriating that multiple individuals had notified R that I was severely intoxicated, did not know who he was and was unable to consent. Here, it is also critical to note that any evidence provided to establish that R was intoxicated apart from his own claims was next to none. A witness account from R’s close friend who had been with him both prior to and immediately after the incident testified that R had not been severely intoxicated, a finding that can be logically corroborated by the fact that R attended several parties after leaving my room and stayed out partying for more than five hours after raping me. 

Although the adjudicator was willing to take R’s word that he was drunk and utilize this information to lessen his culpability, the entirety of my Title IX process revolved around me trying to prove that I was too drunk to consent. While my lack of memory was used against me, R’s selective lack of memory seemed to benefit him.

When I finished reading through the report, it was unsettling to realize that the other woman (Student X) who had come forward had not been mentioned. I reread and found her name buried in the footnotes. I still cannot comprehend that a second victim came forward, shared her story and was reduced to a footnote in my case. The adjudicator’s reasoning was that “the conduct alleged by [Student X] is not significantly similar to the conduct alleged in this matter, and therefore I conclude that it is not relevant pattern evidence.” This claim was made despite all of the ways in which her description of her assault mirrored my own. She says it was her first and only sexual encounter with R, she was incapacitated, there was no consent and he did not discuss or use protection. The adjudicator also failed to acknowledge the fact that the majority of sexual assaults are committed by a small number of repeat rapists.

The reasoning then goes on to claim that Student X’s account is unreliable. The adjudicator had concerns about the credibility of Student X after reviewing R’s response to her interview. His response included many photographs from the night in question as well as screenshots showing text messages between R and Student X discussing schoolwork in months that followed. 

Repression and continued interaction are hallmark responses to sexual assault, not evidence that can be used to prove it wasn’t assault at all. R had every reason to lie, while Student X had every reason to tell the truth. I was a stranger to her; he had been her friend.

Title IX Process: Ongoing

I am currently in the process of appealing the severity of the sanction. By the time the appeal process concludes, it is likely that close to a year will have passed since the incident.

While my assault and the Title IX process have been traumatic, both for me and those in my closest support system, in many ways I am lucky: I had the courage to report; I have parents who not only believed me but were also willing to put all of their time into supporting me until I had some kind of justice; I have a strong support system of friends who helped me feel comfortable returning to campus; I had teachers who were accommodating and understanding; I was able to afford a private Title IX attorney who proved to be invaluable in navigating the Title IX system; I had witnesses who had been with me before and after the incident that were willing to undergo investigation, testimony and cross-examination.

Most importantly, my perpetrator was ultimately found responsible for what he has done. Most survivors are not afforded these advantages. While I stand behind my decision to report, I now understand why so many students choose not to.

Request for Action 

Vanderbilt, this is your call to action. Expel all students found responsible for nonconsensual sexual penetration. Always consider pattern evidence relevant. Conduct the Title IX process within the intended 90 day window. Increase funding for both Title IX and Project Safe. Train your Title IX staff on trauma sensitivity and gender violence. Be proactive in providing more supportive measures and accommodations, especially to survivors. Protect your students who have been assaulted, not your students who are the assaulters. 

Your website reads “the University prohibits and seeks to eliminate all forms of sexual misconduct. Such conduct is contrary to Vanderbilt’s values and is not tolerated,” to which I say: prove it. Because right now, I certainly don’t believe you. 

Editor’s Note: A representative from Vanderbilt’s Title IX office said the office cannot confirm or discuss the specifics of individual cases due to privacy laws. However, Title IX did comment on procedural elements mentioned in this piece, stating that federal Title IX regulations prohibit an informal resolution process from happening concurrently with a formal investigation. They added that if parties involved in a Title IX matter are concerned about being in the same class or living in the same residential building, there are supportive measures they may request that are coordinated by the Title IX office. Additionally, the office stated they carefully investigate every filed complaint and do not tolerate sexual assault.

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118

Comments (118)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected]
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L
Laura
1 month ago

This is immensely immensely sad. I hope Vanderbilt makes some serious changes. I would never send my child here.

B
Ben Garrison
7 months ago

Does anyone actually believe this stuff anymore, after Duke Lacrosse, Landen Gambill at UNC, or Mattress Girl–say nothing of the failures of the so-called Me Too movement?

If this actually happened, she should have called the police. Being called a “rapist” in this social media atmosphere is the modern equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater. If she cannot substantiate her allegations, then it is HER that should be expelled. Students who falsely accuse rape should receive the same penalty as rapists.

Feel free to send your purchased downvote bots – you know I’m right.

A
anon
7 months ago
Reply to  Ben Garrison

Did you simply miss the part of the article that said R was charged with sexual assault and that her allegations were indeed substantiated? The part where she did indeed go to the hospital and go to the police? The issue faced by the author is not that the school did not believe her, it is that the school found her claims to be true and still chose not to expel her rapist. Feel free to use some critical reading skills before making such harmful statements.

D
Duke Grad
7 months ago
Reply to  Ben Garrison

Ben,
Interesting post. If you had taken the time to read the article you would know that the police were notified and her allegations were substantiated. But hey, why let facts prevent you from forming and sharing an ignorant opinion!

FYI… The Duke case is one of the rare examples of misreporting and it occurred because of an immoral and rogue prosecutor who didn’t do his job and who laughably only served one day in jail. As for the woman who made the false claim, she is serving 14 years, albeit for a different crime.

L
Laura
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben Garrison

When I reported my rape to the police in Allentown, Pennsylvania they laughed in my face. You can make a judgment after you get raped.

A
Anon
7 months ago

Thank you, Fran, for your honesty and bravery.  By shining a light on your experience, you are sparking a much needed movement for change!  This problem is too pervasive to ignore any longer.  No one should not have to choose between their education and their safety.  We often hear about all the ways students can protect themselves from being sexually assaulted, but the truth is that nobody asks for or deserves to be sexually assaulted…it is 100% the fault of the perpetrator.   Vanderbilt, step up and expel those found responsible! 

R
rich
7 months ago

Is R going to be offered to have his side printed

Rememer duke LaCrosse, Mattress Girl, Sacred Heart, all were falsely accused men

Title IX is suppose to protect men too

C
Cindy
7 months ago
Reply to  rich

Title IX is, and should be, for both the complainant and respondent. There needs to be due process. And of course false accusations are not acceptable. That is not the point of this article, which is focused on the lack of efficiency and transparency in the Title IX process which then adds trauma on top of trauma for true victims. Sadly, comments like this perpetuate the much larger problem of actual victims not reporting out of fear that they will not be believed. Most victims do not report. Most perpetrators are not held accountable. And 1 out of every 6 American women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. We can do better, 2022!

A
anon
7 months ago
Reply to  rich

I would argue that his identity being protected under the alias of R is all of the protection necessary. The author is detailing her personal experience without attempting to slander the name of her perpetrator, and that is a much nobler route than I personally believe is deserved. What other form of protection do you seek? I also think it is foolish to assume that the Hustler seeks out guest writers and offers them response articles; it is much more likely that R never had any interest in publishing his account, likely because he knew he was in the wrong. I question why you are so sudden to side with a person charged with sexual assault whom you know absolutely nothing about, someone who has been charged through an extensive investigation by a legitimate legal body. I suggest you consider these questions for yourself as well.

A
Anon
7 months ago
Reply to  rich
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Lily
7 months ago
Reply to  rich

According to the Archive of Sexual Behavior only 5.2% of rapes reported are false. So you’re clearly just cherry picking here. He was proven guilty. Just admit that you’re a sexist rape supporter already.

H
Hire a Professioinal Chef
8 months ago

WHY IS THE RAPIST PERMITTED TO RETURN TO VANDERBILT?!!! This guy deserves to go to jail! God forbid anyone has to experience the pain of a rapist! Why, no one of this caliber deserves to attend such an institution. It’s time to have some moral character and expel this guy and anyone else who rapes another person! I am sickened by the thought that my daughter could remotely cross paths with such a low life on a university campus we have entrusted to protect her.

PROTECT OUR DAUGHTERS VANDERBILT AND Fran please report the convicted rapist to the highest authority off campus! 

Fran, we are so proud of your voice and bravery! Stand tall! Expose this sexual predator’s name. He deserves nothing but shame (and jail time)! 

And Vanderbilt, do what is right, protect the students who came to be educated, not sexually assulted!

T
Tim K
8 months ago

This is a tremendously courageous act by Fran. She deserves to have Vanderbilt support her and do what is right after this awful act. She has done her act of bravery, can Vanderbilt step up and do likewise?

L
Laurie
8 months ago

Fran, you are so unbelievably brave to come forward and demand justice. Vanderbilt has failed supporting the victim and this must change.

A
A concerned Parent
8 months ago

Why is this the same story over and over? The UNC rape, the swimmer rapist at Stanford and now this! Vanderbilt and all of these other institutions are so quick to not believe the victim. As the parent of three daughters, I am sickened at the torment the university put Fran, and probably other victims, through! Would the outcome be the same for the child of the Chancellor? I’m guessing no. Stay strong Fran, you are doing great things by coming forward. Vanderbilt, DO BETTER!

J
JohnG
8 months ago

It’s amazing that despite the travesties at PSU and Mich. St, universities continue to turn a blind-eye on this type of behavior. It’s also unfortunate that it takes public ridicule and shaming in order for some universities to even consider doing the right thing. I’m sure R is from a well-to-do family who hired a legal team that made it clear to Vandy that it wouldn’t be easy to do the right thing. I call on Vandy to do an investigation into the investigation. Explain to the public why the Title IX investigator failed to interview so many witnesses. Was it incompetence, capitulation or favoritism? Explain why victims are treated worse than the perpetrator.  Most importantly, explain to Fran, and everyone who would ever consider going to or sending a loved to Vandy, how a drunk rapist is somehow more sympatric than a sober one.  That sentence alone eliminates Vandy as an option for any of my five children. Stay strong Fran. I hope your courage leads to change.   

N
NeilP
8 months ago

This young lady is so strong and brave to come forward with her story. Every parent should read this story.
A horrible crime was commitment and justice was not properly served. Shame on Vanderbilt University! You are guilty of failing to live up to your own written rules of conduct. You are an institution of hypocrisy. For an institution, of course it’s easy to write glorified statements of your policies and beliefs (DEI initiatives incl) but the hard work is done by following through on those statements and you cowardly failed here. I call on Chancellor Daniel Diermeirer to stand up an answer for this failure. Chancellor you should be ashamed of yourself and your representation of this institution. Do the right thing here! How can you honestly let this criminal step foot on your campus again for his actions? I call on Alumni and boosters to withhold support/donations until changes are made. Vanderbilt Community demand justice!

K
Kate
8 months ago

Fran – you are a brave and strong warrior. Thank you for sharing your story and may this be the last time that a victim at VU has to go through what you’ve gone through. Your assailant must be held accountable in real and significant ways!

I
Isabelle
8 months ago

You are so incredibly brave for sharing your story, Fran. Without talking about the horrors of the the Title IX process and SA report in general, we won’t be able to fix it. Thank you so much.

W
Wendy Brainard
8 months ago

Fran you MUST name your rapist publicly! The laws will never protect women as you are experiencing at an “enlightened “ university! All women must name their rapists, sexual absures and pedophikes. It is time as women we publish a list of sex abusers and move on from demeaning process of the police, law and institutions. SILENCE IS THE ABUSERS GREATEST AlLLY. NAME YOUR RAPIST!

K
KSween
8 months ago

I learned *after* my daughter enrolled that VU has one of the highest incidence of sexual
assault—Gasp! How did I not know this? How did I not think of this question on our many tours? If I knew VU’s record, I would have pressed her to go elsewhere.

So it dawned on me that although kids have a nauseating array of catalogs and lists and rankings et al as they choose schools, none of them factor in incidences of sexual assault or violence into their glowing reviews. THIS MUST CHANGE.

Universities seem to be ignoring the fact that *women are their dominant and growing customer base*. They have outnumbered men on campuses for decades and that divide is forecast to increase for decades more.

Like others, I will also reach out to the chancellor’s office to express our outrage and urge them to PRIORITIZE this issue.

THANK YOU FRAN!

K
KMaty
5 months ago
Reply to  KSween

I agree data should be more obviously available. Unfortunately, being made to publish this information will incentivize universities to find accused students not responsible. What they should be made to disclose is their actual results record protecting victims.

P
Pat
8 months ago

Fran tells her story as a survivor, advocate, & change agent.
Estimates of sexual assault reveal that between19 & 27% of college women are sexually assaulted, and the majority of theses assaults go unreported.
Personally traumatized and being publicly scrutinized, Fran chose to file a complaint of her rape with Title IX Vanderbilt.
“R” was found responsible for “nonconsensual sexual penetrating”—rape. Yet, after suspension R can return as a student at Vanderbilt with a “clean” academic record.
Has Fran been the victim—not just once but now twice? Is
this justice?

2
2008 Alumna
8 months ago

Fran: I am sorry for what happened to you and how the university failed to hold R accountable. You are so brave to tell your story, and I wish you strength, peace and healing.

Vanderbilt: The Title IX system failed victims in the mid-2000s exactly as it has failed Fran today. Shame on you then. Shame on you now.

C
Charlie
8 months ago

As a parent of a college-age daughter, I am so disappointed in the response of this university. Sexual assault is far too common. This slow and demeaning process, which puts such high demands on the assaulted, cannot reasonably be considered effective at deterring future assaults.

P
Patricia
8 months ago

Fran, your bravery and strength in sharing your story is so admirable. On behalf of the countless other women who are failed by the Title IX and other processes to seek justice, thank you. Your story is valuable and you are making an impact on a step towards change for the better.

D
D’Ann George
8 months ago

So a Vanderbilt student who is sexually assaulted has to “request supportive measures,” such as not having to live in the same dorm and take the same classes as the assailant? Why wouldn’t those measures be offered automatically? Shame on Vanderbilt.

N
Nela D’Agosta
8 months ago

Bravo to Fran for her strength and courage to speak out and be a catalyst to change.

To the Vanderbilt administration, this is beyond outrageous. Let this be your call to action. Change is needed.

H
Heather P
8 months ago

Fran, I am so sorry for what has happened to you. Your courage, strength and resilience are so admirable and you, undoubtedly, are helping many others who are struggling through this same journey.

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Chris Hines
8 months ago

Be true to your founding values Vandy! The galling disregard you’ve shown thus far for Fran’s soul and psyche is reprehensible. History will see your skewed values clearly, now is the time to change course.

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Libby Cowles
8 months ago

I’ve been thinking about Fran’s fierce, righteous, intelligent voice since I first read her powerful account. I want to share how sorry I am that she experienced sexual assault and how pissed I am that this is still part of the culture of colleges in our country. Enough. More than enough, already. I am struck by Fran’s maturity and self-awareness. Recognizing her privilege in this moment is impressive. So much to be proud of here. Thank you for speaking up, Fran.

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William Roper
8 months ago

Well written and sad. I went to Vanderbilt from 1993-95 and transferred because the university failed me. My lack of wealth played a role in my transfer, just as your rapist’s wealth helped him avoid expulsion. Keep your head up and remember that you will succeed in life. You have held tough through an unbelievable experience and made it through it. I would probably sue the bastard and reveal him name. Daddy’s money cannot un-ring that bell.

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Lola Franco
8 months ago

Fran is to be commended for this article. How brave she is and how powerful this is.

How the burden has been placed on her, to transfer dorms and classes, while R bears no responsibility for anything is disgusting.

Nothing has changed in the 35+ years since I graduated. I hope once more young women like Fran speak out, that the tides will turn against the rapists.

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Stephanie Decker
8 months ago

Vanderbilt should be ashamed of the way they handled this. Allowing a rapist to return to school is unbelievable. Allowing his return sends a very clear message to every woman on your campus. Their safety is not nearly as important as this rapist’s education or reputation. How the hell do you sleep at night?

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Bryce Beddard
8 months ago

I contacted both the Chancellor’s Office and Stephanie Roth expressing my disappointment in the University’s response. I got the same copy-pasted response from both:

We take our responsibility to prevent, respond to, and provide support for those who have experienced sexual assault seriously. We understand the devastating impact sexual assault has on individuals and our community.

 

I cannot comment on the specific statements made in the article because the case remains active through completion of any appeals. As a rule, Vanderbilt cannot confirm or discuss the specifics of individual Title IX cases because of applicable privacy laws designed to protect the privacy of the parties involved.

 

Through our Title IX process we are committed to conducting timely, fair, and thorough investigations to determine if there has been a violation of the university’s sexual misconduct policy. We understand Title IX cases by their very nature are difficult and upsetting, and we proceed as sensitively as we can while following the procedures set out in our policies.

There are a number of complexities – both practical and regulatory – in conducting investigations. The length of an investigation can vary based on the level of involvement by the complainant and respondent, number of witnesses, the amount of evidence submitted, and other factors.

 

For additional information about the availability of supportive measures, please see page 4 of the Formal Grievance Protocol and page 21 of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

 

We are committed to confronting and combating sexual misconduct and to providing our community with the resources and support they need and deserve.

As long as a case that results in a finding of “nonconsensual sexual penetration” results in a student ever being allowed back on campus, I fail to see how the issue is taken seriously by the University.

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William Martin
8 months ago

What a brave thing to do. Fran should be commended for fighting this fight, for the sake of so many young women who might not have the strength to endure it. What an awful stain on Vanderbilt’s reputation.

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Stephanie Vandergrift
8 months ago

Fran and every young woman at Vanderbilt deserve to be safe from sexual predators. To imagine that this piece of excrement gets to attend school, to graduate, to put this behind him while Fran and his other victims pay heavily for his actions is WRONG. Do better! Protect your students from known abusers, rapists, and criminals!

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Patricia D’Aliso
8 months ago

It is heartbreaking to read Francesca’s brave account of her rape. She has amazing strength and courage. I am appalled that Vanderbilt did not expel her rapist! I certainly wouldn’t want my child to attend a school that supports a rapist. God bless Fran for having the courage to speak out and hopefully help others.

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You shame me, Vanderbilt.
8 months ago

As a current Vanderbilt student, I am extremely ashamed and angry at my home institution. I’ve reached out to my high school friends to tell them to never attend Vanderbilt because of their treatment of their students, and, with other current students, am looking into transferring to a different university. Vanderbilt’s hypocrisy is undeniable and unacceptable. Clearly they are favoring male, upper-class students who have the funds to continue to pay full tuition, even allowing him to come back to school. The outcome of this case makes me wonder just how many other assaulters Vanderbilt have let off and may still be roaming around campus. The very thought of this makes me sick to my stomach. No one deserves to be treated this way. You are so strong, Fran. Know that so many people stand with you.

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Ken Thomas
8 months ago

The contrast between the courage of this young woman and the cowardice of the administration is glaring and appalling. A respected institution like Vanderbilt deserves better leadership, and the student body deserves a better example.

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Jeremy Yaekel
8 months ago

As a parent of 3 children headed to college soon, I am extremely disturbed, particularly that the perpetrator had a prior case and yet he was allowed to graduate. This was heartbreaking to read. I am so sorry.

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Nancy
8 months ago

My late father was a Vanderbilt alumnus and raised two daughters. He would have been horrified by the University’s tolerating criminal behavior by one of its students.

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Anonymous
8 months ago

I can only imagine the pain this has caused Fran and her family and friends. We have written to VU and will no longer support VU philanthropy until this situation is rectified and the individual expelled. Claimed intoxication is no defense to criminal behavior. Expel this person — Fran has to live her life with the consequences of his actions, and so must he.

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India Bayley
8 months ago

Thank you Fran, for the wrenching decision you made to share your story, and for the heartache it must have taken to write this. As a Vanderbilt Medical School alum, I hope that the school is ashamed of its hypocrisy in the face of your bravery. May my three young daughters grow up to be as fierce and as strong as you.

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2017 Alum.
8 months ago

Fran, I am so sorry for your experience. To have your rapist not face accountability is heartbreaking. While I usually don’t favor criminal prosecution, in this case, you may be able to press charges and have R. arrested and charged in your assault. However, the renewed trauma of bringing that case is something you would want to weigh with your family and in therapy. I’d just like to add that you’ve taken all of the right steps in processing this trauma and I hope you receive the just resolution you’re seeking.

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Incredulous Parent
8 months ago

Please call Chancellor Diermeier’s office and the Title IX office and let them know that you do not want a known rapist to be in anyone’s dorms or classes. They are knowingly putting the entire Vanderbilt community in harm’s way while at the same time denying Fran justice.

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Current Student
8 months ago

This is a heartbreaking story. The situation itself and the fact that Vanderbilt has still not learned how to take care of Title 9 cases with care, swiftness, and true justice is awful. I know I’m not the only Nashville native who remembers the Vanderbilt Football team rape case that happened while we were growing up and how that case was not handled with care. There is a reason that Vanderbilt has repeatedly been voted one of the least sexually safe schools in the United States. I am deeply sorry this situation has unfolded as it has, but let it be known that no perpetrator of sexual assault or sexual crimes of any level, no matter how wealthy or privileged, is welcome in our community.

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Gabriela Seberger
8 months ago

I am so incredibly sorry that R did this you and was not held to the standard of justice he deserves. This is in my opinion the worst crime that can be committed against a woman and it is infuriating how our sanity and credibility are called into question when reporting this. I will be doing what I can to pressure the university to change its policies including starting a petition with calls to action. Furthermore I have always thought persons accused of sexual assault should be immediately removed from campus at their own expense until the title IX process is complete. At the very least this might incentivize them to move through the process in a more timely manner while protecting victims from physical and social backlash.

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Daniel Graves
8 months ago

This is a travesty. No female student should have to endure this gauntlet of injustice. If we can help in any way, calls/emails, we are there for her and all the women on VU campus.

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anonymous
8 months ago

this is so heartbreaking. i am going through the title 9 process and it has taken a tremendously long time than it should as well. i go to a small school and when i have to see the group of boys who sexually harassed me for weeks straight i can barely stand up. their impact on my life and mental health is so so so completely unfair and i hate that they have that much control over my mind. i am so sorry that vanderbilt refuses to expel him or hold him rightly accountable for the severity of his actions. i hope that he gets what he deserves and absolutely no sympathy from the university or anyone in general. you are so strong and powerful to post this and i hope that one day you will be able to fully heal from this.

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Current Student
8 months ago

Fran, I am sorry that something this horrific happened to you, and that Vanderbilt continues to push it aside. I believe and support you, as do many others on campus, and I hope you can find the space to heal from the trauma that the Title IX process seems to bring up continuously. You are so brave. As a woman currently on campus, this is extremely concerning that Vanderbilt refuses to take action against these serial rapists. Even though I’ll be gone by Spring 2024, I fear for the women on campus if this serial rapist is allowed back. It is so disheartening that Student X was completely pushed aside by the process, and I hope she can find healing as well. The reaction by Title IX and Vanderbilt is deplorable, and Fran, your strength in publishing this is the first step to calling Vanderbilt out.

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Anonymous
8 months ago

Fran, the amount of courage and eloquence you exemplify is truly inspiring. I’m so sorry this happened and I hope you continue to heal surrounded by supportive friends and family.

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Vanderbilt Alum Parent
8 months ago

Fran, it is strong voices like yours that will begin the process of much needed change at Vanderbilt and other universities. My husband is an alum as are my three children and we could not be more ashamed of this university and its treatment of you. It is time for Vanderbilt’s leadership, including its Board of Trust, to step up an lead the way for meaningful change.

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Mel Villagran
8 months ago

It is heartbreaking that after everything you went through, the known rapist still has the chance to be a Vandy student and alum. Perhaps the policy stating the university does not tolerate sexual misconduct should be amended to say, “Sexual misconduct is tolerated among known rapists who are Vanderbilt students we allow on our campus.” My daughter is an undergrad at Vanderbilt and it’s terrifying to think your story could happen to her, or many students who might find themselves in a similar situation. Thank you for shedding light on what rape victims can expect from the university when they seek justice in the TitleIX system.

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Anonymous Alumna
8 months ago

This happened to two of my friends at Vanderbilt too. The perpetrator was the same guy in both cases, and Vanderbilt allowed him to continue his education and graduate on time, despite being found responsible. Meanwhile, my friend had to take time away from her education to go through the grueling Title IX process and not see justice in the end. Vanderbilt’s “values” clearly don’t align with their actions. My heart goes out to you Fran, thank you for your bravery in coming forward with your story.

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Nancy
8 months ago

So proud of you for reporting this and standing your ground! Your courage and strength is admirable. I too was raped at a Vanderbilt many years ago, but I blamed myself and never reported it. I am so sorry that you experienced this traumatic event and pray that you can move forward in peace one day.

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Alum and Daughter Parent
8 months ago

Fran, what you suffered is a tragedy. It is sad that the school treats victims this way. As an alum and a parent of daughters, I am embarrassed and angry at the school.

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Judi
8 months ago

Thank you for sharing, Fran. An incredibly brave act that I hope will help people understand the devastating consequences of rape and the courage it takes to come forward for justice and healing. I know this article is already having a positive effect. Know you are supported and loved

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