A second University of Richmond student has come forward alleging that administrators mishandled her complaint against another student she described as “my violent stalker.”
“They told me that he was going to stay and if I couldn’t deal with it, I could look into transferring,” Whitney Ralston, a junior from San Diego, said of the university’s Title IX administrators in an essay Friday on The Huffington Post.
In an interview Friday, Ralston said that she has filed a grievance with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, but has not heard whether her complaint will be formally investigated.
Another student, Cecilia Carreras, also is asking OCR to investigate UR’s handling of her reported rape by a Spider athlete.
Ralston identified herself as “the other girl” who had not received justice who was referenced in the earlier Huffington Post essay by Carreras, who goes by CC.
Their cases aren’t isolated, Ralston wrote. “If something doesn’t change, girls like CC and I will keep coming forward: more survivors will stand up to the institution that has silenced us for too long.”
She wrote that she has learned that “a rapist’s privacy is more important than my life.”
The Richmond Times-Dispatch normally does not identify victims of sexual assault, but both Ralston and Carreras agreed to have their names published.
UR did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Ralston’s essay, but previously said Carreras’ account contained inaccuracies. Carreras published more details online in response to the university’s suggestion that her account isn’t completely factual, which she wrote feels like school officials are calling her a liar.
UR President Ronald Crutcher responded to the outrage on campus late in the day, issuing a statement that “it is clear that members of our community are concerned and frustrated, and some are hurting.”
He said the university has strong programs in place to prevent sexual violence and responds actively to any report of misconduct.
But he said he will seek input from students, faculty and alumni and report back to the community by fall break on additional steps that can be taken.
OCR already is investigating potential Title IX violations at UR from a 2014 case.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal financial aid.
Title IX initially was associated with equity in sports programs, but it also protects against sexual violence and harassment.
In an interview, Ralston said she reported the assaults, which included a head injury when he slammed her against a wall, to campus police.
She said she was initially encouraged by the police response.
But she said her assailant admitted guilt to one count of violence and was put on probation, and that halted further administrative sanctions.
Ralston, a former cheerleader, said she left the squad because of the stress she was under.
The university held a previously scheduled campus session Thursday on sexual violence, an annual event called “It ends now.”
Ralston, who watched a live-stream of the event, said students were angry that administrators would not take questions about Carreras’ essay.
The university barred off-campus media from attending the session, but The Collegian student newspaper reported that more than half of the audience walked out in protest.
The Collegian posted a three-hour live-stream of the event in which students and alumni challenged administrators on the university’s response to Carreras’ allegations.
One male student said it appeared “the administration is putting the image of the university before students.”