RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A University of Richmond student is speaking out after she says she was raped and the school mishandled the situation. Now, she wants to raise awareness about sex assaults on college campuses.
Cecilia Carreras claims the person responsible for her attack was protected by the university because he’s an athlete. She says while she’s upset with how the school handled her case, her goal now is to get as many people as possible to realize that this as a serious problem across the country.
Carreras said her attack happened last fall when someone she says she was friends with sexually assaulted her, despite her asking him to stop. But it wasn’t until a month later when she happened to see him near campus and realized what happened. That’s when she decided to tell the university.
“I could not control the fact that I was like, hyperventilating, and tears were streaming down my face and I started getting flashbacks of that night,” Carreras told 8News reporter Mark Tenia.
“I could not control the fact that I was like, hyperventilating, and tears were streaming down my face and I started getting flashbacks of that night.” — Cecilia Carreras
Carreras shared her story and the university’s response in an article published Tuesday in the Huffington Post. She claims a school administrator told her he thought it was reasonable for her accused attacker to continue for a few more minutes “if he was going to finish.”
“It was one of those same administrators who when you’re a freshman stands up in front of you, is on the stage and is like, ‘you can withdraw consent at any time,’ and that’s what we’re told repeatedly,” Carreras said.
Carreras says, despite repeated efforts, the university issued a slap on the wrist and protected the student-athlete.
“Richmond needs to take this as a moment to say, ‘you know, we need to do better.'”
“It really shook me,” Carreras added. “For (the administrator) to say, ‘well, it was fine,’ was just kind of like a major blow because I just thought we were so much better than that.”
Carreras said while she’s upset with the school’s response, she wrote the article to raise awareness in light of former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who made national headlines after being convicted of sexual assault and was sentenced to only months in jail.
“It’s easy to hate Brock when you don’t know him, but it’s hard to stand up to the Brock that you know, the Brock that sits next to you in class and plays on a team that you want to support,” Carreras said. “Richmond needs to take this as a moment to say, ‘you know, we need to do better.'”
When asked what she wanted her message to be to other survivors, Carrera said, “I 100 percent do not regret reporting it. It was emotional and I cried for probably 90 percent of last fall, but I think somewhere along the way, that fighting and that constantly having to stick up for myself really made me just love myself so much deeper.”
On Wednesday, the University of Richmond sent the following email to its student body in response to Carerra’s article published in the Huffington Post:
We have come together today to write to you because we were deeply saddened to read in a commentary in the Huffington Post yesterday about the pain felt by one of our students, and to hear echoes of that pain from other community members. Some of you have reached out to us, and we are grateful that you have done so – we are here to listen and provide help and support. Federal law prevents us from sharing details that would allow individuals, and the community as a whole, to have a full understanding of any specific report. We understand that this is difficult, and we wish to provide some clarity while respecting our legal and ethical obligations to protect the privacy of our students.
To be clear: we stand against sexual misconduct. As individuals and as a University, we are committed to responding actively to reports and supporting our students. We are equally committed to education and prevention, including supporting peer programs such as Spiders for Spiders. Sexual misconduct is an issue that affects all campuses across the nation, and we are working to care for those affected and to reduce instances here at the University of Richmond, with the goal of eliminating sexual misconduct altogether. To do that, we need your continued help: we must all join together in embracing our shared values, our expectations for our community, and how we handle reports and support each other.
We wish to reiterate several fundamental points: all students should continue to report any instances of sexual misconduct; all community members should continue to support survivors and others affected, through their words and their actions; and all students can and should expect that reports of sexual misconduct will be investigated and adjudicated thoroughly, fairly, and equitably.
While we cannot address specifically the contentions in the recent Huffington Post commentary, given our commitment to student privacy, and we respect the right of all students to express their opinion and discuss their perspective, we think it is important for us to share that many of the assertions of fact are inaccurate and do not reflect the manner in which reports of sexual misconduct have been investigated and adjudicated at the University.
We would also like to make clear our activities regarding the Coordinator of Sexual Misconduct Education and Prevention position. We are in the process of filling the position for the remainder of the grant and expect to have someone in place next month. As a result of the grant, we have learned much and we plan to continue to integrate what we have learned into our staffing and programs, so that we support students, respond thoroughly to reports, and continue work to prevent all sexual misconduct on our campus.
This is important work. More than 30 staff and faculty members collaborate annually to educate about and prevent sexual misconduct through our investigative, adjudicative, and educational initiatives. We are committed as individuals and as a community to accomplishing this work in a supportive, caring, and impartial manner. We are proud of our students, including our student leaders, Spiders for Spiders, and the many others who have united in these community efforts. Through this message we ask the whole campus to continue our work as a community.
Tomorrow evening the campus community will gather in the Alice Haynes Room at 6:30, for the annual It Ends Now: A Culture of Shared Responsibility. Representatives of several campus organizations will speak, and we will be there in support and solidarity. We hope to see you there. We will continue to alert you to other events we have planned, and also invite you to reach out to meet with us, to share other ideas, and to get involved. It is only through the shared efforts of our entire community, and open dialogue, that we can make a difference in our community.
Our sexual misconduct policy and standards of student conduct clearly define prohibited behaviors and community expectations, provide different ways to report violations and concerns, and explain the processes for investigation and disciplinary actions. You can find them at http://richmond.edu/sexualmisconduct and http://studentdevelopment.richmond.edu/student-handbook/index.html. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us, or any of the resources listed on these pages, with questions or concerns. We really want to hear from you, and we are here to help.
Title IX Coordinator and Director of Compliance
Dr. Mia Reinoso Genoni
Dean of Westhampton College
Dr. Joe Boehman
Dean of Richmond College