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Attorney For Ex Of Sexual Misconduct Accuser: “People Want Harm Done To Him”

By Anne Brenner Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:10 pm
CHAPEL HILL-As one UNC student who says her ex-boyfriend sexually abused her continues to speak out against the university’s handling of sexual assault cases, the attorney for the man she accuses says his client is not only being mischaracterized as a rapist—he’s also facing threats of violence.

“Since he returned to Chapel Hill at the beginning of second semester, Ms. Gambill has made statements that specifically called him a rapist,” says John Gresham, attorney for the ex-boyfriend of UNC student Landen Gambill. “And it’s been reported precisely that way.”

In 2012, the ex-boyfriend, whose name hasn’t been released, faced a university panel on  charges related to sexual misconduct. But Gresham says based on the panel members’ verdict, his client, by definition, isn’t a rapist.

“There was a two-day hearing with a five member board, three of whom were female, who found he was not guilty,” he says. “One of the charges was sexual misconduct that involves deliberate sexual invasion of another without consent, which is another way of defining rape. So, three women who heard about 20 hours of testimony determined he was not guilty of the charge.”

The panel found the ex-boyfriend not guilty on the sexual misconduct charges by a margin of 5-0, although he was found guilty on verbal harassment charges.

Gambill and her supporters have maintained that she’s being unfairly portrayed by the university’s disciplinary system—meanwhile, Gresham says the lies that his client is facing are also leading to dangerous threats.

“There are people who are saying people should do physical harm to him,” he says. “He’s taken precautions to assure that he wouldn’t be in any place that was in close contact with Ms. Gambill, and he’s had friends accompany him when he was going to be in public places on campus.”

Gambill is currently facing honor court charges of engaging in disruptive behavior against the ex-boyfriend, whose name has not been released. She has said that the sexual abuse began while the two were in high school and continued into her freshman year of UNC, where he was also studying.

But Gresham says the panel that found the ex-boyfriend not guilty had nothing to do with the Honor Court.

“As of the first of 2012, the Honor Court no longer had jurisdiction over complaints such as that of Ms. Gambill,” he says. “The hearing was before a university hearings board, which consisted of a university administrator, two faculty members, and two students.”

Gresham says that based on the timeline of events—and the fact that Gambill is one grade level younger than her ex-boyfriend—the alleged sexual misconduct couldn’t have occurred while both students were studying at UNC. He adds that the purported conduct would have had to occur several months, if not a year, prior to her formally making allegations against him.

Shortly after her ex returned to campus January of this year, Gambill filed a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, alleging that UNC officials and the Honor Court had mishandled her case. Several others were also part of that claim, including former UNC assistant Dean Melinda Manning, who stepped down at the end of 2012.

On Friday, a group of students led an on-campus rally to express support for Gambill.

“I want to assure everyone that while this has been difficult, I’m certain that change is coming,” Gambill said at the event.

During the rally, several other UNC students had harsh words for the administration, including senior Tim Longest.

“These administrators have chose to cover up injustices rather than seeking their source,” he said. “Protecting the powerful and privileged and punishing the vulnerable.”

Gresham says while he disagrees with Gambill’s accusations, the rally’s participants seemed conduct themselves in a legally appropriate fashion.

“They’re free to express their opinions about the policies of the university, but they aren’t free to state my client is a rapist,” he says. “I wasn’t there, but I gather that those comments weren’t repeated.”

If Gambill is found guilty on the disruptive behavior charges, she could face a variety of different punishments, including possible expulsion from UNC.
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