Rape Incident Reported at UVI Dorm; Institution Says It’s ‘Deeply Disturbed By Allegation’ and is Cooperating With Police Investigation
The University of the Virgin Islands in a statement provided to the Consortium Tuesday afternoon said it was “deeply disturbed” by an allegation of sexual assault that is said to have occurred in one of the institution’s dorm rooms on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix during the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
The Consortium learned of the incident from close relatives of the victim, who believe the student was raped early Tuesday following a gathering of four, among them the victim, another female and two males, where alcohol was consumed and marijuana smoked.
The victim told relatives that a male UVI Resident Assistant, called RAs, another male student along with the victim and a second female, had participated in a gathering they organized Monday night that lasted until roughly 3:00 a.m. Tuesday. The victim, age 19, stated she consumed some alcohol and inhaled second-hand marijuana smoke. She had also set her cup down and told relatives she was unsure as to whether her drink was spiked with a date-rape drug. After a while, the UVI RA, whose dorm is in close proximity to where the party occurred, exited the dorm and left the three others — the victim, the other female and male students — in the room, according to an account of the incident relayed to family members by the victim. The victim stated that the other female was lying on the dorm room bed sleeping and that she felt comfortable to get next to her to sleep as well. Thereafter, the victim said all she remembers is waking up without her pants and underwear, and the dress top she wore hoisted, exposing her vaginal area. Traumatized, the victim said she also realized the other female was not in the room, leaving only her and the male student in the dorm, whose genitals the victim said hung out his boxer shorts.
“When he realized that she was conscious, he was like, ‘oh, nothing happened, nothing happened, I didn’t do anything,” the male is said to have stated according to an account of the incident relayed by the victim to her sister.
The victim said she ran out the room seeking help from a friend residing in a nearby dorm room. The friend immediately called UVI security, who transported the victim to the Juan F. Luis Hospital. The hospital then made contact with the 911 Emergency Call Center to report the incident. The hospital performed a sexual assault forensic exam on the victim and should have results in a few days, according to relatives of the victim.
The victim had arrived at the medical facility after 4:00 a.m. Tuesday and was released after 9:00 a.m. She was advised to followup with her doctor, and complained to her sister of abdominal pain.
In a statement to the Consortium, UVI expressed regret and said it was taking the matter seriously.
“The University of the Virgin Islands is deeply disturbed by an alleged sexual assault that was reported in the early morning hours of April 20, 2021. The alleged victim was taken to Juan F. Luis Hospital by UVI Security.? The students involved in the incident had participated earlier in an unapproved on-campus party that ended around 3 a.m.,” the university said.
UVI President Dr. David Hall stated, “UVI takes this situation very seriously. The University is guided by the federal standards of Title IX that reflects the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy. We will continue to follow these guidelines and to work with the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD) as they investigate.”
The institution of higher said its Security Department, whose officers are on the campuses 24/7, and the Office of the Dean of Students on St. Croix responded to the incident as soon as it was reported.
The university also spoke of annual events to educate students about sexual assault it hosts. UVI said it hosted a three-day Sexual Assault Awareness Conference last week from April 14, to 16, on the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix, and provided a link where students can find information on the university’s Sexual Harassment Policy.
“We will continue to do our part to raise awareness of the deep harm associated with sexual assaults and work diligently to keep students safe as they pursue a quality education at this institution,” Mr. Hall stated.
But the university, while it pointed out that the party was unauthorized, did not comment on why one of its Resident Assistants was one of the organizers of the unauthorized gathering. Resident Assistants, called RAs, are paid students whose duties include ascertaining that students adhere to resident policies, among them monitoring to ensure that illicit activities do not occur at the dorms, including the use of alcohol and drugs. RAs are to also act as mentors to students as well as reporting personal and social concerns of students to leadership.
Asked about the involvement of the RA, UVI Communications Director, Tamika Thomas Williams, said Tuesday she would either respond with a comment or provide Mr. Hall for an interview. At time of writing, however, a comment was not provided and connection with Mr. Hall had not been established.
The Consortium on Tuesday also sought comment from UVI on an alleged rape incident that occurred last semester, but the institution had not returned comment on that matter.
Family members of the victim felt UVI was not responsive enough to the incident. The victim’s sister said a comment was made that indicated UVI was intent on preserving its image rather than addressing the incident. Ms. Williams said the University stands by its statement that the matter was taken seriously. She also said the V.I.P.D. had taken lead on the investigation.
V.I.P.D. Public Information Officer Toby Derima said the 911 Emergency Call Center was notified at 5:29 a.m. Tuesday from a nurse at JFL who classified the matter as a “possible rape of a 19-year-old student.” The report stated that there were no suspects identified in the incident at the time and the victim was taken to the hospital via private vehicle and UVI security.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the victim’s sister was at UVI packing up belongings as the victim has opted to leave campus and continue her education online. The sister said UVI personnel at that time questioned the victim on what had occurred, stating that it was a serious matter and would be investigated. UVI personnel also said they had spoken to the other individuals who were at the party.
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