Victim in USF rape case calls attackers "monsters"

TAMPA — The University of South Florida has an escort system and emergency phones. Dorms require entry passes. Guards patrol on golf carts, and the campus has its own police force. Inside the dorms, resident assistants keep watch.

But none of that protected the 17-year-old freshman who says she was raped by two men July 18 in her own room at Magnolia Apartments. One man, a USF student, lived across the hall, she said; the other was his invited guest.

It was the third reported sexual assault at USF this year.

The freshman, who spoke with the St. Petersburg Times on Thursday, said she and the two men were at the same party in the on-campus apartments.

Now she thinks of them as "monsters." She wants people to know that the attack wasn't her fault.

She drank some beer, she said, but did not feel drunk. She does not believe she was drugged. She mostly just felt tired. The men followed her across the hall to her room, and then didn't leave, she said.

According to an affidavit for a search warrant, she was raped at about 2:30 a.m. that Sunday, as she faded in and out of consciousness.

She reported that she told them to stop.

"I hope they get arrested," she said. "I hope they get charged with everything."

The State Attorney's Office is reviewing the case and will determine whether to file charges. Spokesman Mark Cox said he could not comment on an open investigation.

The Times is withholding the girl's name because of the nature of the crime.

It's her first semester at USF. Just a few weeks ago, she unpacked her belongings, declared a major and started making new friends.

She helped plan the party. She and some friends bought a black light, white T-shirts and highlighters, which when used on their skin appeared to glow.

It was fun, she said.

During the party, a resident assistant knocked on the door. A partygoer cracked the door open, she said.

"Could you turn down the music?" the RA asked.

Resident assistants are undergraduate-level students who live in — and monitor — residence halls. They don't have the authority to go in a student's room to check for alcohol or stop a party, but if they suspect that anything against university policy is going on behind closed doors, they're supposed to call university police, said USF spokeswoman Lara Wade.

The student who reported she was raped says she doesn't blame the RA or the university. But she wishes there was tighter security on dorm visitors. Though students need to swipe a pass to get in, people will often say, "I forgot my card, will you let me in?" or walk in behind others, she said.

She knows that might not have made a difference in July, but it would make her feel safer now, she said.

Wade said officials will follow up with the victim to discuss her safety concerns.

The girl remains enrolled in classes.

She says she wants to move on. She's a cheerful person, and she doesn't want that to change. Still, the memory of the assault haunts her. She analyzes it, and continually replays the events in her head.

"I try to remember every detail to try to figure out — why?"

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

What to do if you are raped:

• Get to a safe place and notify police immediately

• Call a friend or family member who can help

• Do not shower, save all clothes and try not to disturb anything in the area

• Seek medical care, and if you suspect you've been given a rape drug, tell caregivers

• Write down as much as you can remember

• Consider seeking support through a hotline, crisis center or some victims assistance program. You can find a counselor by calling 1-800-656-HOPE.

Source: Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica‑ UCLA Medical Center

WHAT TO DO

If you are raped:

• Get to a safe place and notify police immediately

• Call a friend or family member who can help

• Do not shower, save all clothes and try not to disturb anything in the area

• Seek medical care, and if you suspect you've been given a rape drug, tell caregivers

• Write down as much as you can remember

• Consider seeking support through a hotline, crisis center or some victims assistance program. You can find a counselor by calling 1-800-656-4673.

Source: Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica‑UCLA Medical Center

Victim in USF rape case calls attackers "monsters" 08/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 6, 2010 12:50am]

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