Education

UNC student who says she was raped facing honor code violation

Posted February 25, 2013
Updated February 26, 2013

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— A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sophomore says she feels like she is being targeted by the university after she spoke out on campus about how she was treated when she reported last year that she had been raped.

Landen Gambill says she is facing possible suspension or expulsion after an ex-boyfriend, who she says attacked her, filed a complaint with the student-run Honor Court that she created an "intimidating environment" for him when she recently spoke on campus.

Gambill says she never publicly identified the man, but the Honor Court has charged her with "disruptive or intimidating behavior."

"I was really, and still am, really upset, not just because it is obviously unfair to me," she said Monday. "It's just part of a larger pattern of the way this university handles these cases and treats survivors."

Gambill is one of four students who filed a federal complaint last month with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, alleging that the university violated federal laws by dismissing reports of sexual assault, failing to adequately train employees in offering support for victims and downplaying rape statistics.

Landen Gambill, UNC sex assault Student says UNC retaliating after rape concerns

The Education Department is still reviewing the complaint.

Gambill says that when she reported the assault to the university last spring, she was told to go through the Honor Court.

"The whole time in the Honor Court, they were asking me victim-blaming questions, like why I hadn't left him earlier or why was I ever alone with him, instead of asking him, 'Why did you do what you did?'"

The student was found not guilty, and Gambill says she feels like the new charge is in retaliation by the university for speaking out.

Karen Moon, a UNC spokeswoman, however, said in an email that the claim is unfounded.

"Given that these charging decisions are made by student attorney generals and not by campus administrators, a claim of retaliation by the university would be without merit," Moon said.

But Gambill says an assistant dean helped her ex-boyfriend file the complaint.

"It's an issue of the way this university sees sexual assault survivors as threats and as people to be silenced," she said. "Not as people who deserve respect and to be treated well and treated fairly."

Citing federal privacy laws, Moon could not speak specifically about Gambill's case but said the university "is committed to providing policies and procedures that are fair for everyone, especially about an issue that is as difficult and often involves strong opinions on both sides like sexual assault."

As of Aug. 1, she said, sexual assault cases are no longer addressed through the Honor Court system.

The university has also retained a former prosecutor and nationally recognized consultant on sexual misconduct issues to guide the campus on issues related to their handling of sexual assault complaints.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement that students' well-being is a pressing issue at UNC.

"The Carolina community cares deeply about all of our students, including both students in this specific matter. If we are to achieve the ultimate goal of eliminating sexual assault and violence from this campus, we must all work together," he said.

87 Comments

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  • driverkid3 Feb 28, 11:59 a.m.

    Seems that UNC has a lot more to cover up than just the scandal with the athletes. I wonder what REALLY goes on there that no one ever hears about? I also wonder just how much these students get in the way of education with all this other garbage is going on.

  • Cee-Lo Feb 28, 9:49 a.m.

    i feel really sorry for this young lady and how she has been treated if she was really raped...however we see so many times how people are falsely accused of rape and reputations destroyed mostly due to some kind of revenge or for money....if ur raped PLEASE just call the POLICE ASAP

  • cn38of50 Feb 28, 9:15 a.m.

    If you are raped...before you do anything else...call the POLICE. Do not shower or bathe until you have been examined by a doctor and had a rape kit completed. Do not tamper with the scene where the attack occurred. If your attacker was someone you know, do not let him use "I was drunk" or "You led me on" as an excuse. NO means NO. If you fear the individual may retaliate against you for making a report...get a restraining order!

  • StevenNC Feb 26, 7:50 p.m.

    I'm reluctant to believe but would be miffed if it turned out that UNC campus police is referring felony criminal matters to Honor Court for investigation, adjudication and disposition. I'd like to know if that's the case or if Landen did not want to pursue criminal charges or become involved with a formal criminal investigation by law enforcement but was seeking her ex-boyfriend's expulsion from the school under the University's code of student conduct -- which would fall under the Honor Court's purview. Has Landen alleged that she tried to file a criminal report of the rape with law enforcement but was refused and referred her to Honor Court? In other words, was she told it's not a criminal matter and her ex-boyfriend is not subject to criminal prosecution and sentencing, but that he may be expelled under the code of student conduct? Those are outlandish claims that I don't see supported by any evidence reported in the press, but I'm listening.

  • mountainlover Feb 26, 7:11 p.m.

    StevenNC: The fact that UNC chose to have an Honor Court hear cases related to sexual assault bolster this young woman's credibility to me. A system of this nature gives a university a good way to skirt around the requirements of the Clery Act. And I am not just pointing a finger at UNC. All colleges and universities do it. I graduated from UNC and would like to defend her. I am just a more honest person than a politically correct person. This system of handling sexual assaults cannot be defended.

  • StevenNC Feb 26, 5:47 p.m.

    I know very little about this particular case. I know even less about "the many other women who were raped at UNC." Can you be more specific about what other cases you're referring to that you'd like me to comment on or are you in the same boat as me?

  • melmika Feb 26, 5:37 p.m.

    StevenNC

    What about the many other women who were raped at UNC and found no justice?

  • StevenNC Feb 26, 5:36 p.m.

    The Honor Court is entertaining a report that she has engaged in intimidating and abusive behavior that was filed by her ex-boyfriend. She is being asked to respond to those charges. Nobody is saying she's guilty of intimidation and abuse except, that is, her ex-boyfriend. The only way to have avoided where we are now is to have had the Honor Court disregard its charter and procedures and refused to entertain a student's allegations.

    I think everyone and the process would be better served if we don't presume anything and let other people sort it out without the pressure of public outcries and hasty conclusions based on scant if not tautological evidence of the mere allegations.

    I will add this: The fact that the victim (Landen) has characterized the mere fact that the Honor Court is asking her to appear before it and address her ex-boyfriend's allegation as evidence of a conspiracy by the University to denigrate and harass victims of rape causes me to question her credibility.

  • yinyangtkdgirl Feb 26, 5:30 p.m.

    Legal charges cannot be filed through a student run Honor Court. The Honor Court at best can recommend expulsion for the offender, but cannot level criminal charges against him. That would have to be done through law enforcement and the judicial system.

  • carrboroyouth Feb 26, 5:10 p.m.

    The man is scot-free, regardless if her story is true or not.

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