‘I Didn’t Want to Bury This’: A Student’s Process Following Report of Sexual Assault

Henry Redman | The PhoenixThe student said he went to Gino’s North Pizza, where he met a former Loyola professor and a man he believes sexually assaulted him. Since then, he’s battled alcohol abuse and other problems.

A Loyola student said he was sexually assaulted and possibly drugged off campus last fall — and ever since he has struggled with alcohol, keeping friendships, staying in school and a sense of isolation.

But the student — who asked not to be publicly named by The Phoenix — is speaking to the student newspaper because, he said, he “didn’t want to bury this,” and also wanted to help empower other men who have gone through similar experiences.

“Don’t be macho about it, get help,” he advised other male survivors.

The Phoenix originally reported on the student’s case in October and followed up last month when police reports revealed a former Loyola professor was with the student prior to the reported assault. While the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has said it doesn’t have any suspects and there have been no arrests in the case, the student believes he knows who’s guilty — a man he met while socializing with the former professor and others.

The student said The Phoenix’s previous reporting on the incident helped embolden him to talk about his experience.

Last fall, the student said he went to Gino’s North Pizza, a bar on Granville Avenue blocks from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, where he met a man who identified himself as a Loyola professor. The student told The Phoenix he hadn’t known the man before that night. The former professor introduced the student to another man, who he believes drugged and sexually assaulted him after they left Gino’s, the student said.

The student gave The Phoenix permission to discuss his case with law enforcement and Loyola’s Title IX employees, who work with reports of gender-based misconduct.

Tim Love, Loyola’s Title IX coordinator, confirmed the professor worked at Loyola in the past, but wouldn’t say when, except to say he wasn’t employed at Loyola during the reported assault or any time in 2018. He said there aren’t plans to hire him back.

The student said he doesn’t remember a large portion of the night after he stepped out of the bar to smoke with the former professor. He said that’s when he believes his drink back inside the bar was spiked with Rohypnol — commonly referred to as “roofies” — a date rape drug which slows the central nervous system. Side effects of roofies include amnesia and drowsiness.

The student said he went back into the bar and took a drink — from that point on he said he doesn’t remember anything.

The next morning, the student said he woke up in his apartment naked and sore with blood on his sheets. His apartment was in disarray with lamps and tables knocked over, and he said he was feeling hazy and lightheaded. He went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital that day and had DNA and other tests taken, also known as a “rape kit,” to determine if he’d been raped.

The student said he met the former professor and the accused offender at Gino’s North Pizza before the incident.

That same morning, the student said he received separate text messages from the former Loyola professor and the accused offender. The former professor asked if he was okay. The former professor also relayed to the student that the accused offender said he took the student to Sovereign Liquors, a bar on North Broadway, and “lost track” of him at some point in the night.

“[The accused offender] tells me he took you to the sovereign bar instead of your apartment building, and then lost track of you,” the former professor’s text, obtained by The Phoenix, read.

But the former professor’s and the accused offender’s stories differ, according to the student’s account.

Texts from the next day, also obtained by The Phoenix, to the student from the accused offender, indicate he was in the student’s apartment.

“FYI all the blood on your sheets came from this cut I got at your place when I bumped into some furniture, not from you,” the accused offender’s text messages read, accompanied by a photo of a cut on his leg. “I apologize for staining your sheets.”

Reading the texts, “I was starting to get suspicious,” the student said.

Since that night, the former professor and accused offender have hired the same lawyer while police investigate.

Jon Erickson, the lawyer who represents both men, portrayed his clients as innocent of any wrongdoing but simply as witnesses who are trying to help the police. He said the student was “highly self-intoxicated” and “has no recollection of any of the night’s events.”

“The appearance of a witness’ name in a police report does not … make that person a suspect or even a person of interest,” Erickson said via email.

The student said he was drunk the night of the incident, and that he won’t know for sure whether he was drugged until a toxicology report comes back, but he said he wasn’t in a condition to give consent for sex.

“I’m not surprised [Erickson] said I was drunk. I was pretty hammered,” the student said. “I know that [the accused offender] certainly took advantage of my state at the time.”

Anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol is unable to give consent, according to Loyola’s community standards.

“A respondent being intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol is never an excuse for misconduct and does not diminish any responsibility to obtain consent,” the standards state.

For the student, there are two stories. The story of the incident and the story of what came after.

In the months since the incident, the student said the reported assault has impacted him severely. He mentioned moving apartments, losing friends and working with Loyola to alter his class schedule while he processed his trauma.

“It affected my ability to have relationships with people, I kind of kept people at an arm’s length,” the student said. “These people didn’t believe me and I trusted them. I developed a drinking problem and had to get help for it … I blame this guy for what happened. I spiraled out of control, I had to withdraw from class … It’s been a struggle to get back on my feet.”

The student said along with the trauma of sexual assault, the aftermath can also be damaging.

“My big concern is you want to end the suffering at the end of the sexual assault,” he said. “You don’t want what comes after. You don’t want [the survivor] to deal with drugs or alcohol or get seriously depressed.”

The student said he met the former professor and the accused offender near the intersection of N. Winthrop Ave. and W. Granville Ave.

He said he had his control taken from him the night of the assault at the hands of the accused offender.

“I felt like I had a lot taken away from me,” he said.

But despite the student’s obstacles, he said he’s beginning to move forward and talk about what happened to him. He said while it’s taken a lot of time and a lot of treatment, talking about his experience publicly was a way to reclaim some power.

“If anyone’s gonna tell this story, it’s gonna be me, not a bunch of reports or a bunch of CPD,” he said. “Because they weren’t there. Title IX was supportive and everything but it didn’t happen to them.”

After talking about his experience, the student said he felt a weight lifted.

“Keeping this to myself and pretending it didn’t happen has been hell,” he said. “It was therapeutic to talk about it. It makes it mean something.”

After reporting the incident to CPD, the student said the obstacles persisted.

He said he’s confused why there aren’t any suspects for many reasons — specifically because he said the detective on the case told him there was security camera footage, which showed the accused offender and the student in an elevator in the student’s apartment building.

The student was so disgusted when he was told about the footage he threw up, he said, adding he’s glad he didn’t watch it.

The student told The Phoenix he wants the accused offender to understand the impact the assault had on him, saying he sees the man as a “monster.”

“I want [the accused offender] to know what kind of damage he’s caused and what kind of damage this does to somebody,” he said.

The student said being a male survivor of sexual assault has been “alienating” and caused him to face a lack of support, resources and empathy from others, including CPD.

He said he didn’t find any male-specific resources on Loyola’s campus, and he felt uncomfortable going to support groups geared toward female survivors because he understands some of the group members might benefit from a female-only group.

Love said he’s not aware of any support groups for survivors at Loyola geared specifically toward men, but the existing resources are meant for all survivors of sexual assault.

“Keeping this to myself and pretending it didn’t happen has been hell,” he said. “It was therapeutic to talk about it. It makes it mean something.”

Loyola Student
Sexual Assault Survivor

Given that the vast majority of sexual violence survivors are female, male survivors of sexual assault can feel like they don’t fit a stereotypical mold and that impacts how they deal with it, according to Maria Balatá, the director of advocacy service at Resilience, a sexual assault survivor advocacy organization.

“We’ve decided a survivor looks like a white, young, attractive, college-aged [woman],” Balatá said. “So what happens when the survivor doesn’t fit that box? We have identified this as a gendered crime, if you don’t fit that narrative, how does that impact your masculinity? The added level of shame, where you walk into a space, ‘This shouldn’t happen to me because I’m a man and these things don’t happen to men.’”

While all 32 sexual assault crisis centers in Illinois are equipped to provide services to all gender identities, the names of these organizations can feel exclusive. “Women’s Center of Peoria might not feel comfortable,” Balatá said as an example.

There’s a stigma around coming forward for all survivors of sexual assault, but it’s amplified in men, making them much less likely to report, Balatá said. The Loyola student said he often felt alone.

“Even though it’s obviously a much smaller number of men that it happens to, it still does, and they tend to be invisible,” the student said.

He reported the assault to Title IX, which offered resources and support but couldn’t investigate the incident because the accused person wasn’t affiliated with Loyola.

The student said Loyola’s resources were helpful — Loyola helped the student move apartments and change his class load — but he felt “isolated” during the legal process.

Amber Miller, an assistant dean at Loyola who provided the student with counseling after the incident, declined to comment on his case.

“Unfortunately, given the sensitive and private nature of my work with students, I am unable to comment on the matter,” Miller said in an email.

During CPD’s investigation, which is pending the results of the rape kit completed in October, the student said he felt like the police didn’t believe him. He said one of the first questions the cops asked was if he was gay and seemed not to believe him when he said no.

“I felt more ridiculed than anything,” the student said.

He compared it to how he suspects the police handle reports of sexual assault from female survivors.

“I don’t know how many female sexual assault survivors get asked about their sexuality first thing off the bat,” he said. “That just felt really strange. That was really a surprise to me, that there was so much skepticism at first. I’m disappointed with the Chicago police.”

CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

The student said he met the former professor and the accused offender at a bar near the Granville CTA Red Line stop.

The student was told the results of his rape kit would be back in about nine months. DNA tests in Illinois are typically done by the Illinois State Police (ISP), according to ISP Sergeant Jacqueline Cepeda.

While ISP couldn’t comment specifically on the student’s case, Cepeda said DNA tests typically take a little more than eight months to process.

“As of February 28, 2019 (latest statistics available), the average age of DNA assignments worked was 246 days,” Cepeda said via email. “It should be noted that these figures include all types of cases (e.g., murder, sexual assault, burglary, etc.). When requested by an agency in urgent situations, the ISP is generally able to complete DNA assignments within 48 hours.”  

Recent reports from the Chicago Tribune show ISP has a backlog of 5,000 cases in need of DNA testing, because of a staff shortage and budget problems.

While the student reported his incident, many male survivors don’t, which makes it difficult to know how widespread the problem is, according to Balatá.

Different organizations and studies show widely different rates of sexual assault in men.

According to 1in6, a male survivor’s advocacy organization, one in every six men will be sexually assaulted in his lifetime. But according to The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, that number is one in every 71 men.

“We can’t capture the number because there’s so much stigma around sharing, owning survivorship anyway, these added elements make it even more difficult,” Balatá said.

Love said the Loyola Title IX office has received eight reports from male complainants so far this academic year, two of which were reports of sexual assault.

The Loyola student is just one example of sexual violence occurring on and off Loyola’s campuses. In 2016, there were 55 reports of sexual violence on students off campus and 15 reports in residence halls, The Phoenix reported.

If anyone is in need of sexual assault resources, they can call the Loyola Sexual Assault Advocacy line at 773-494-3810. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is also available 24/7 at 800-656-4673.

Loyola students can report sexual misconduct to Title IX at 773-508-3733 or use the university’s EthicsLine reporting hotline, Loyola’s system for dealing with different complaints.

Related Stories:

Former Loyola Professor Named in Police Report Involving Sexual Assault of Student

Loyola Student Sexually Assaulted Blocks from Lake Shore Campus

Sexual Violence on Students More Prevalent Off Campus

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