UNC to delay Honor Court case against outspoken student

Posted March 26, 2013

— The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Tuesday that it is suspending an Honor Court case against a student who accuses the school of retaliating against her for filing a federal complaint about the handling of sex assault cases on campus.

Sophomore Landen Gambill is accused of violating UNC's honor code by creating an intimidating environment for the man who she says raped her, although she hasn't named him publicly. A campus board earlier cleared him of the sexual assault charge and but found him guilty of harassing her. He faces no criminal charges.

Gambill is one of five women who asked the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights to look into what they called an atmosphere of sexual violence at the school. She maintains that the honor code violation was retribution by the university for filing the complaint and speaking publicly about her case.

On Monday, her attorney said she had filed a second complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, alleging that the university was trying to intimidate her. Attorney Clay Turner asked Chancellor Holden Thorp to dismiss the Honor Court case against Gambill.

Thorp said Tuesday that he asked the case to be suspended until an outside review of the retaliation claim could be investigated.

"For several weeks, the university has grappled with how best to respond to a public claim of retaliation against the university while maintaining the autonomy and integrity of our Honor Court proceedings and the privacy of the individuals involved,” Thorp wrote in a letter to students, faculty and staff.

"Recognizing the potential conflicts that may exist by allowing both processes to continue, we have asked the Student Attorney General to suspend the Honor Court proceeding pending an external review of these allegations of retaliation," he said. "The university takes all allegations of retaliation seriously, whether against an individual or an institution, and this allegation is no exception.”

The initial complaint filed by Gambill and others accuses UNC-Chapel Hill of under-reporting sexual assault cases for 2010 in an annual report to the federal government on campus crime. It also alleged that campus officials allowed a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assault.

Thorp reiterated in his letter Tuesday that UNC-Chapel Hill has taken steps to improve its handling of sex assault cases and will keep trying to get better. Part of that process involves respecting people's right to express their opinions, he said.

"Throughout this process, the university has continued a long tradition of encouraging students to exercise their right to speak out. That’s how most important social change occurs," he said. "The university will continue to encourage frank and candid dialogue among our community members and to create a safe space for that conversation."


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  • kornfan2448 Mar 28, 2013

    "they'll have a full investigation for a football player cheating on a test. But rape, its not a priority. bombayrunner"

    Could be because there was actual proof that cheating had occurred. Aside from her word, I have yet to see any proof a rape has happened.

  • nufsaid Mar 27, 2013

    "they'll have a full investigation for a football player cheating on a test. But rape, its not a priority.

    The "full investigation" of the allegations of academic issues involving the football (and basketball) teams were controlled by UNC administration. There hasn't been a true "outside" investigation.

  • Native NC gal Mar 27, 2013

    Would love to know the real story here. If you are raped, I would think you would go to the police.

  • Scubagirl Mar 27, 2013

    UNC just needs to dissolve the Honor Court! If there are issues on campus that are against the law then folks just need to go to the police and forget about trying to get any kind of justice from the so called 'honor' court. Rape is a matter for LAW ENFORCEMENT NOT the school

  • allanonofnc Mar 27, 2013

    Well this woman needs to stop playing around and go to the police if she was raped. If UNC is trying to stop her from doing that then deal with that separately. Rape is not a crime to be handled by school administrators or honor courts but the police. As a former RA at another state school, we were instructed to call the police in cases of suspected rape, not the school cops.

  • kornfan2448 Mar 27, 2013

    All of this is stemming from an alleged sexual assault that has yet to be proven even happened. Either prove that there was an actual assault that occurred for UNC to TRY to cover up as so many are implying, or let it go.

  • daveasphalt Mar 26, 2013

    There is no honor in rape! It's a crime.

  • Mom2two Mar 26, 2013

    If this had been handled by a POLICE Department, like it should have been, this would all have been a moot point. It would have been handled criminally, and the school would have dealt with it after a conviction, if there was one.

  • Ex-Republican Mar 26, 2013

    "Criminal proceedings should NOT be handled by the university and the Honor Court."

    NotFromHere, this article doesn't say that. None of the articles on this web site have ever reported that. Read the stories.

  • ncwolf08 Mar 26, 2013

    Penn State will have to take a back seat to UNC. UNC seems not only trying to hide the scandal, but retaliate against those that would bring the problem out in the open. Shame on you, UNC. I have always heard where there is smoke, there is fire. Lord knows you have your share. Football and academics are in question and now your credibility. Want to try for something else??? I hope all of the school's backers with their big fat checks will think twice about giving to a school whose reputation is so tarnished.