Defense Attorney: Initial Photograph of Alleged UNC Rape Victim Appears to Have Been Altered

The attorney for a UNC football player accused of raping another student is saying the initial photos released by the victim’s attorney may have been altered to make injuries look worse.

Kerry Sutton is representing Allen Artis, who was accused of rape by a UNC sophomore Delaney Robinson. Robinson held a press conference in mid-September alleging that Artis had raped her on Valentine’s Day.

At that press conference, Robinson’s attorney – Denise Branch – released pictures of Robinson she said were taken as part of the investigation into the assault. But Sutton is now saying that the photo that was released appears to have alterations made to the color in the photograph.

Sutton said she obtained the photograph that initially caused her concern from the file shared from the District Attorney’s Office. Sutton said the lighting in that picture was different than what was released at Robinson’s press conference.

Branch released a statement in response to the difference in the photos.

“The photograph I presented at the press conference was given to me by Investigator Barbee with the UNC Department of Public Safety. Ms. Sutton has not requested nor has she received any photographs from me or my office. We have no idea from whom or from where Ms. Sutton obtained the photograph she submitted to the forensic analyst, and there is no way we can attest to the authenticity or alteration of Ms. Sutton’s photograph.”

Sutton said she filed a motion on Friday asking to the state to produce photographs.

Robinson took out self-sworn warrants on misdemeanor charges against Artis after the press conference making the allegations public. Officials in the District Attorney’s Office say the investigation, which has the potential to result in felony charges, is ongoing.

Artis has maintained his innocence and that the sexual activity that night was consensual.

The trial date for the misdemeanor charges is set for December 5.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/defense-attorney-initial-photograph-of-alleged-unc-rape-victim-appears-to-have-been-altered

Trial Set for UNC Football Player Accused of Sexual Assault

“I did not rape her.”

Allen Artis repeated that claim five times as his eyes panned across a group of reporters outside the Orange County Courthouse in Hillsborough on Thursday.

Earlier this month, a UNC sophomore Delaney Robinson accused Artis of raping her on Valentine’s Day.

Robinson said she filed a complaint after the incident but that she was discouraged during the process that justice in her eyes would be served.

Robinson’s attorney, Denise Branch, said when the allegations were made public that she had been told no charges would be brought in the case. But local District Attorney Jim Woodall said that same day that he had confirmed with UNC Police that the investigation was open and ongoing.

Rather than waiting for the resolution of that investigation, which could result in felony charges, Robinson took out self-sworn warrants for assault and sexual battery.

Durham-based attorney Kerry Sutton is representing Artis and said he was “perfectly happy” to let the full investigative process play out.

“He has every right to have a fair trial, both here and in the Title IX process,” Sutton said. “And although we didn’t start this – and I’m not blaming this on Ms. Robinson at all – the way this has turned out, Mr. Artis can not possibly get a fair hearing in the Title IX process.”

Sutton’s law partner Steve Lindsay said that they were preparing for a trial to restore Artis’ reputation and would not accept any plea agreement before trial.

“I’ll make that clear right now, we are not going to plead guilty to anything,” Lindsay said. “This man has done nothing wrong.”

Stephanie Artis, Allen’s mother, asked for the public to reserve judgment.

“As his mom and as his parents, our heart breaks for him because we know him,” she said. “And our community at home and everybody who knows him knows his heart and knows that this wouldn’t happen. So we’re dealing with the personal part.

“Also, as a mother, it saddens me that this could be any of our sons.”

Sutton said the case defending Artis was going to rely on what they see as the facts from the night of the incident.

“We’re using the facts,” Sutton said. “The facts will support Allen. We’re not afraid of the facts.”

Sutton said that she had reviewed the witness statements given in the case and that Robinson’s friends told authorities that she had “seemed fine.” Robinson has admitted to drinking the night of the alleged assault and the warrants state that Artis should have known Robinson was incapacitated that February night.

“I just want the truth to come out and then justice to come out,” Artis said after Thursday’s hearing.

“Delaney Robinson is a rape victim, and she has chosen to exercise her rights as a victim to be involved in these legal proceedings,” Branch said in a statement released after Thursday’s hearing. “We are pleased with the actions Mr. Woodall and his office have taken since Ms. Robinson had the courage to come forward. Ms. Robinson remains resolute in her pursuit of justice.”

The trial date on the two misdemeanor charges has been set for December 5.

Artis has been suspended indefinitely from the UNC football team, which is team policy for any player charged with misdemeanor offenses.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/trial-set-for-unc-football-player-accused-of-sexual-assault

UNC Chancellor Responds to Campus Concern Over Sexual Assault Allegations

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt is asking for trust from the campus community in the wake of rape allegations made by a student at the Chapel Hill campus this week.

“As chancellor, nothing matters more to me than the safety and well-being of our campus community and how our University responds to these issues and concerns,” Folt wrote in an open letter.

The message is in response to allegations made by UNC sophomore Delaney Robinson earlier this week. Robinson publicly claimed that she was raped by a UNC football player on Valentine’s Day on campus. Robinson said she came forward because she was frustrated with how the investigation was being handled by UNC Police and the local District Attorney’s Office.

Folt wrote that this topic was “very difficult but important” and that it “matters to us every day. We take every allegation extremely seriously.”

Folt continued, “we must be fair to all of the individuals involved and not rush to judgment – regardless of how that approach and the time it takes might be viewed in the court of public opinion.”

Robinson took out warrants for misdemeanor charges herself this week against her alleged attacker – UNC linebacker Allen Artis – felony warrants must come from the DA’s Office or a grand jury. Artis turned himself into authorities at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office on the misdemeanor charges of assault and sexual battery. Robinson’s attorney Denise Branch said the self-sworn warrants were taken out because she had been told by the DA’s Office that no charges were coming from this investigation.

Branch quoted from an e-mail she said she received from a member of the DA’s Office in early August.

“UNC DPS has made clear their determination the evidence does not support criminal charges and our review of the investigation does not lead us to advise or otherwise take action to the contrary.”

District Attorney Jim Woodall, however, said he had confirmed with UNC officials that the investigation was still open and active.

“The lead investigator took some investigative steps and consulted with our office on August 26,” Woodall told WCHL in an interview on Tuesday. “And then he actually went to a judge on a matter on August 29 concerning this case.”

Woodall said that meant felony charges were still possible in the case. But he added because alcohol was involved – Robinson admitted to drinking while underage the night of the alleged attack – that could complicate the investigation because of the laws regarding rape in North Carolina.

Folt wrote in her Friday correspondence that, “Sometimes, to get it right takes longer than anticipated.”

Other than the length of the investigation, Robinson’s attorney also questioned the reliability of the university’s new Title IX policy rolled out over the last two years in an effort to better serve sexual assault victims.

Folt responded, “Inevitably, some will walk away from the process disagreeing with the outcome. That does not reflect in any way on the integrity of our employees or our process.”

Folt continued, “The comprehensive changes we made in 2014 included more clearly defining consent, streamlining and better publicizing reporting options, adding confidential resources, and changing the adjudication procedures.”

Branch criticized the Title IX process saying, “The Title IX office has refused to render a decision in this case, despite concluding their investigation nearly three months ago.”

Addressing results of the new system, Folt said it had been “promising – we are encouraged by an increase in reporting.”

Folt added, “Our Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office reports a 52 percent increase in formal investigations of sexual assault and a 156 percent increase in requests for accommodations, resources and other support between 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.”

Folt again commended the university’s Title IX office, Student Affairs and Department of Public Safety officials.

“They are outstanding professionals who care deeply about our students,
faculty and staff.”

Folt ended the letter saying, “We are all dedicated to prevention, safety, treating people with compassion and respect, achieving fair outcomes and continuing to do everything possible to getting these processes right.”

Robinson is now a sophomore at UNC and said on Tuesday she intended to stay at the university and never truly considered transferring.

Artis, meanwhile, is out of custody on a $5,000 unsecured bond and has a September 29 court date to face the two misdemeanor charges. Again, the DA’s Office says the investigation is ongoing and felony charges may be a possibility. Artis has been suspended from the football team, per team policy when a player is facing misdemeanor charges.

More information on resources available to victims of sexual assault on UNC’s campus is available here.

Read the full letter from Folt below:

Dear Carolina Community:

I am writing today to share my thoughts about a very difficult but important topic that has been on everyone’s minds this week: sexual assault and sexual violence.

As chancellor, nothing matters more to me than the safety and well-being of our campus community and how our University responds to these issues and your concerns. In every situation, we must be fair to all of the individuals involved and not rush to judgment – regardless of how that approach and the time it takes might be viewed in the court of public opinion.

I understand that people want me to speak out whenever there is an incident of public interest, but I cannot comment on specific cases as I do not want to bias or jeopardize the fairness of the process. This topic matters to us every day. We take every allegation extremely seriously. If we ever find shortcomings or problems, we will admit to them and fix them. Your feedback is helpful. We want people to feel empowered to share opinions and to be engaged in a thoughtful and respectful way.

The issues involved in sexual assault are challenging. Inevitably, some will walk away from the process disagreeing with the outcome. That does not reflect in any way on the integrity of our employees or our process.

We are committed to ensuring every step of our policy and procedures is correctly followed. Sometimes, to get it right takes longer than anticipated. But in the end, a respectful, reliable and equitable investigation must be the result. I want to reassure you that Carolina follows the highest standards based on federal law and guidance. The comprehensive changes we made in 2014 included more clearly defining consent, streamlining and better publicizing reporting options, adding confidential resources, and changing the adjudication procedures. We added resources to provide compassionate care and accommodations for those who need support with their day-to-day logistics, academics or work. For details, please visit http://safe.unc.edu.

The results so far are promising – we are encouraged by an increase in reporting. This trend suggests that our education, prevention and awareness programming is taking root and that our community members feel more comfortable coming forward. We also know they expect to be treated fairly. Our Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office reports a 52 percent increase in formal investigations of sexual assault and a 156 percent increase in requests for accommodations, resources and other support between 2013-14 and 2014-15.

I have confidence in the people responsible for our campus process, including our Title IX Office, Student Affairs and the Department of Public Safety. They are outstanding professionals who care deeply about our students, faculty and staff. We are all dedicated to prevention, safety, treating people with compassion and respect, achieving fair outcomes and continuing to do everything possible to getting these processes right.

Sincerely,

Carol L. Folt

Chancellor

http://chapelboro.com/featured/unc-chancellor-responds-to-campus-concern-over-sexual-assault-allegations

East Chapel Hill High School Responds to Alleged Sexual Assault

A Chapel Hill mother is warning other parents after she says that her 15-year-old daughter, who is a special needs student, was sexually-assaulted at East Chapel Hill High School.

The mother told WRAL, on Friday, that two East Chapel Hill High School students forced her daughter to perform sex acts and recorded it on video.

There are no police reports or search warrants publicly available about the incident at this point, but Chapel Hill Police are investigating the alleged incident.

CHPD Lt. Josh Mecimore says, “We have an ongoing investigation involving a juvenile victim and juvenile suspects which occurred at ECHHS.”

The mother chose to remain anonymous to protect her daughter’s identity, but she told WRAL that she found out about the video from a friend whose daughter ha seen a video of the alleged assault.

Chapel Hill – Carrboro City School officials say they are aware of a video that has been circulating on social media and that they are cooperating with the police investigation.

The following message was sent out to parents of East Chapel Hill High School students on Sunday evening, according to school system spokesperson Jeff Nash.

“Good afternoon. This is Eileen Tully, Principal of East Chapel Hill High School. Friday night, our school was mentioned in a television news story centered on a student-initiated sexual assault allegation.

I wanted to take a moment today to remind our school community that this type of behavior, or any actions that bring harm to our students, will never be tolerated in our school. This matter is extremely concerning.

In the case at hand, I am limited in what I can tell you, but rest assured we took appropriate action at the school with those involved and immediately contacted the Chapel Hill Police for assistance. This matter is currently under investigation by the police department and we are cooperating with them fully.

Thank you for listening and enjoy the rest of your weekend.”

The mother told WRAL that her daughter had since switched schools but that she was still being bullied as students at the new school have seen the video as well.

We will continue to update this story as more information is made available.

This is the latest in a series of events that have drawn criticism at East Chapel Hill High.

In May, emotions were high after students at East Chapel Hill took a photo holding Confederate battle flags while on a class field trip. The picture was posted to Instagram with the caption “South will rise.”

Chapel Hill Police were also called to East Chapel Hill in June for a possible overdose when four students ranging from 14 to 18 years old required simultaneous medical attention.

And in October, homophobic graffiti was spray painted on the school targeting the school’s Queer-Straight Alliance.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/east-chapel-hill-high-school-responds-to-alleged-sexual-assault

Sexual Assault Data Released by UNC

Nearly one in four female students at UNC reported some form of unwanted sexual advancement, according to recent statistics.

The University of North Carolina released data from the Association of Association of American Universities’ Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault, last Monday.

UNC was one of 27 public and private institutions to take part in the survey.

Vice Chancellor for workforce strategy, equity and engagement Felicia Washington and Christi Hurt, the chief of staff and assistant vice chancellor for student affairs at Carolina, continue their conversation with WCHL’s Blake Hodge about the data. Listen to their conversation below:

 

You can read the full report from UNC here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/sexual-assault-data-released-by-unc

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt on SACS, NOA, Silent Sam and more

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt has just started her third academic year at the helm of UNC. She spoke with WCHL’s Blake Hodge about a number of campus-related topics.

You can hear the different segments of the discussion below:

Folt discusses her major priorities for the new year and a self-evaluation of her first two years on the job:

 

Folt on what she is hearing from the Carolina community in the wake of the ongoing NCAA investigation and accreditation review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

 

Folt on the recent spray paintings of Silent Sam and the renaming of Saunders Hall.

 

Folt on campus issues including underage drinking, sexual assault, and overall campus safety.

 

Folt on college affordability and accessibility as well as her vision of the future of the university.

http://chapelboro.com/featured/unc-chancellor-carol-folt-on-sacs-noa-silent-sam-and-more

200+ Turn Out to Walk Against Sexual Assault

More than 200 students attended the “Walk a Mile” event that took place on UNC’s campus Thursday evening to stand against sexual assault.

via Sigma Phi Society

via Sigma Phi Society

The event was put together by Sigma Phi Society, a fraternity on campus, and partnered with several Greek and non-Greek organizations.

Group discussions were held following the walk to encourage continuing difficult conversations.

via Sigma Phi Society

via Sigma Phi Society

 

More than $1,000 was raised at the event for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

via Sigma Phi Society

via Sigma Phi Society

via Sigma Phi Society

via Sigma Phi Society

 

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/200-turn-out-to-walk-against-sexual-assault

UNC Greek Organizations ‘Walk a Mile’ Against Sexual Assaults

Some Greek organizations at UNC are teaming up with other campus organizations to march against sexual assault this evening.

Organizers say it’s an attempt to get people together in one place, to have conversations they don’t normally have together.

“We really think this is an extremely important issue – not only on UNC’s campus, but on college campuses all over the country,” said Michael Catalano, the vice president of the Sigma Phi fraternity at UNC. “And we, as a fraternity, want to take a stand and show that sexual assault is unacceptable, and that we are taking a stand against it.”

“Walk a Mile” will take place Thursday evening at 6, beginning at the Old Well, and proceeding around both quads on UNC’s campus.

Participants will carry signs, and some will read survivor stories and testimonials.

After a quick dinner, participants will break off into discussion groups, led by facilitators from One Act.

“One Act is a group on campus that, basically, leads training sessions on how to intervene and deal with cases of sexual assault, and also how to talk to and work with survivors afterward,” said Catalano.

Organizers hope to draw around 300 people to the event.

Andrew Brennen, the service and philanthropy chair of Sigma Phi, says the march is in response to a general culture that fails to show enough support to survivors of sexual assault on campus.

And it addresses some unpleasant statistics about university life.

“Fraternity men are three times more likely to commit sexual assault than other college-age men,” said Brennen, “and being a part of a fraternity, that number kind of, you know, embarrasses me.”

In addition, Brennen cites the statistic that one-in-five women are sexually assaulted on college campuses. Again, he says it’s something his fraternity finds embarrassing, and disgusting.

Catalano said it will be the first UNC philanthropy event co-hosted by members of all four Greek councils. Three Greek organizations from each council are sponsoring the walk.

Carolina Advocating for Gender Equality is also co-sponsoring the event.

Registration for the walk is taking place in the Pit throughout the day. The cost is $5, which also covers a barbecue dinner.

T-shirts will cost $15. All proceeds from the event go to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Registration can also be completed through a link on the Walk a Mile event page on Facebook.

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc-greek-organizations-walk-a-mile-against-sexual-assaults

UNC Requiring Students, Faculty, and Staff to Take Sexual Violence Course

Students, faculty, and staff at UNC will be required to take a training course on sexual harassment and sexual violence.

The Office of Student Affairs at UNC sent an e-mail to students, on Monday, detailing a mandatory online training course to comply with a larger policy aimed at stopping all harassment and discrimination on campus.

Christi Hurt – Chief of Staff for the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at UNC – says this training is meant to educate everyone on campus.

“[The training is] making sure that they’re aware of all of the different components of the policy,” she says. “And that they understand the definitions of all the different types of prohibited conduct.”

Hurt adds the online module was perceived as the easiest way to get the information directly to the students.

Students will be required to complete this training course within 45 days of receiving their registration notice, according to the e-mail sent Monday. A student’s failure to comply with this requirement could result in a hold on their student account, which could affect their registration for classes.

Hurt says this program has been fine-tuned with feedback of a pilot program, which began this past summer and was extended into the fall semester.

“My understanding is that the pilot was very successful,” she says. “Students helped us clarify places where the training could be a little bit more precise and where they needed additional information. About 3,000 students went through that pilot.”

Hurt adds this course is part of the overall policy changes at UNC. She says they have made students aware of a website containing that policy, but this course will ensure students, faculty, and staff familiarize themselves with the material.

“[This requires] that folks go through the steps,” she says, “to understand what the prohibited conduct language looks like, what it means to be a supporter of a healthy campus, to be an individual who contributes productively to the campus climate and culture, and how to get help and provide people with assistance.”

Students will be required to take this course annually, according to the e-mail. Hurt says faculty and staff will have continued training as well.

“Faculty and staff are also going to have to take it on a regular basis,” she says. “It may not be annual. It may be every-other year. But, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that information is in everybody’s hands, in an up-to-date manner.”

This training is part of UNC’s compliance with federal law that requires everyone on campus be educated about the issue.

“This will help us fulfill some requirements under the Violence Against Women Act,” she says. “There’s a specific section in there that requires that we train everyone on campus about a series of definitions related to sexual misconduct.

“That’s not the only reason, of course, that we’re doing this training. We are also working very hard to change and promote a healthy campus culture.”

Hurt says to bring that “culture” to reality, it will be important to continue updating the policy to bring in any new developments or areas that were missed with the initial guidelines.

To continue UNC’s work of ensuring a safe and inclusive campus, the e-mail to student says to expect a sexual assault campus climate survey. Which Hurt says is expected to have multiple positive ramifications.

“Not only looking to gauge the temperature of the campus, but to look for the issues that are specifically causing challenges for students on our campus,” she says.

Hurt adds, in addition to the online training, in-person facilities are still available to provide assistance to those in need.

She says it will be important to receive continued feedback from everyone on campus to comply with providing a campus free of harassment.

The entire e-mail to students can be read below:

Dear Student,

The University has completed the development of an important training on sexual harassment and sexual violence that is required for all students, faculty and staff. The completion of the Title IX Awareness and Violence Prevention online training marks the end of an extensive pilot program and training development process.

The training complies with federal requirements and includes information about laws prohibiting sexual harassment, sexual violence, interpersonal violence and stalking. It also provides information regarding how to identify this prohibited conduct, seek support following incidents and report such conduct.

Many students participated in a pilot program. The pilot program began this past summer and was extended into the fall semester because of the valuable feedback the University continued to receive from program participants on the readability, clarity and content of the training. The University carefully considered this feedback and staff worked diligently with the compliance training vendor to incorporate the suggestions.

In the coming days, you will receive a registration notice from the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (eoctraining@unc.edu) with a personalized link to the training module. Failure to fully complete the training within 45 days of receiving the registration notice could result in a registration hold on your student account, which could affect your registration for future classes. Students will be prompted to take this course annually. When it is time to renew your training, you will be notified automatically by email. The course will take approximately 30-45 minutes to complete.

This training is among many components of a larger effort at the University to eliminate, prevent and address the effects of sexual harassment, sexual violence, interpersonal violence and stalking. This includes working toward the development of a sexual assault campus climate survey. You can expect to learn more about this survey this semester.

We hope this training will increase awareness and broaden the discussion about this issue on our campus. We will host sessions to answer any questions you have following this training and to seek your feedback on how we can continue to improve our efforts to address this important issue. If you have questions about the training or would like information about additional training opportunities, contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office at (919) 966-3576.

Thank you for your participation. I appreciate your commitment to a safe and inclusive campus in which to work and learn.

Winston B. Crisp
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-requiring-students-faculty-staff-take-sexual-violence-course

UNC Title IX Task Force Recommendations Anticipated To Be Ready By End Of April

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said Friday that she anticipates having a report from the University’s Title IX Task Force by the next Faculty Council meeting, which is on April 25.

The Task Force has been working since May of 2013 to rewrite UNC’s sexual assault policy. The tentative goal was to have had recommendations ready by the fall of last year.

“I think we are all waiting for the report from the Task Force, and I know some people wish that report would come forward,” Folt said.

Christi Hurt, Chair of the Task Force, who also served as Title IX Coordinator for an interim period, has said that the group is regularly reexamining their work and ideas on the sensitive issues.

Once a draft is completed, it will be presented for campus community feedback and then will go before administration for final review.

The Task Force was formed in response to changing federal Title IX requirements for universities and incidents on UNC’s own campus that prompted the need for change.

Folt, who spoke during Friday’s Faculty Council meeting, said she applauded the extent to which the task force is “trying to get it right.” She said a number of changes have already been implemented.

“We believe that a number of ideas that are being put forth by our Task Force are already anticipated, or would be the ones that are the guidelines, for some of that federal attention,” she said.

In January, President Barack Obama announced the creation a national task force to combat sexual assault, particularly at the university level.

The same month, Folt traveled to the White House to participate in policy discussions on a number of topics. During the trip, she spoke with the President and Vice President Joe Biden about policies regarding sexual assault on college campuses. Biden is leading the efforts of The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, as it is called.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

“There is a great deal of interest built on concern that sexual violence has reached epidemic proportions in our nation’s universities,” Folt said.

A number of representatives from UNC have participated in the on-going national conversation.

UNC graduate student Katie Akin, a member of the UNC Title IX Task Force, was invited to sit at the table next to the Vice President in February during a discussion on sexual assault. She offered several recommendations for his consideration.

Vice President Joe Biden talks with Katie Akin; Photo by David Lienemann

Vice President Joe Biden talks with Katie Akin; Photo by David Lienemann

http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/unc-title-ix-task-force-recommendations-ready-end-april