Education

UNC football player surrenders on sexual battery, assault warrants

Posted September 14, 2016 11:10 a.m. EDT
Updated September 14, 2016 4:43 p.m. EDT

— A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football player turned himself in Wednesday after being served misdemeanor warrants for sexual battery and assault on a female.

Allen Anthony Artis, 21, a junior linebacker from Marietta, Ga., was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond and waived his right to appear in court Wednesday afternoon.

UNC sophomore Delaney Robinson, 19, of Apex, says she was assaulted by Artis in an apartment at the Ram Village complex on the UNC campus on Valentine's Day. She said that the university and the justice system have failed to take action against him, so she went to an Orange County magistrate on Tuesday to swear out warrants against him.

WRAL News usually doesn't identify the victims of sex assault, but Robinson decided to take a public stand on her case.

"I did everything a rape victim is supposed to do. I reported it. I allowed the rape kit to be taken. I gave a statement. I cooperated with law enforcement and the Title IX office. But six months later, the university has done nothing," Robinson said Tuesday during a news conference. "I’m taking this public stand not for me but for the other students on campus who are not protected, despite what the university tells us."

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said the case is still an active investigation and that no decision has been made on whether to file charges against Artis.

"Contrary to what I've hear reported elsewhere, it has been a continuing investigation that has been open, and it's a little bit unusual to have misdemeanor charges filed when there's an ongoing felony investigation," Woodall said. "I can't remember being in this situation before in the 27 years I've been here, but we'll look at that and see what our next step is."

Denise Branch, Robinson's attorney, said Tuesday that Assistant District Attorney Jeff Nieman told her via email last month that the UNC Department of Public Safety hadn't found evidence to support a rape charge, so authorities didn't plan to pursue a criminal case against Artis.

Woodall disputed that, saying that Nieman had a lengthy conversation with Branch about state law regarding mental incapacity and physical helplessness and how that might relate to sexual assault cases. DPS has been in contact with the District Attorney's Office about the case as recently as Aug. 29, Woodall said, and authorities are still waiting on the analysis of the rape kit that was submitted to the State Crime Lab.

"What Mr. Nieman said is, if the evidence changes and when the toxicology results come back, if that changes anything, we will be back in touch," Woodall said. "Clearly, with labs pending and with that statement, the case remained open. Ms. Branch chose to simply not contact us further about it.

"At some point, hopefully, I can have a conversation with the alleged victim and her lawyer about how we'll proceed from here," he said.

Branch said Wednesday that Robinson and her family are "pleased the process is finally moving forward."

"Delaney Robinson had the courage to report she had been raped. In response, she has been treated with indifference, disrespect and inordinate delay," Branch said in a statement. "Delaney has been resolute since her attack on Valentine’s Day. Everyone should be accountable for their actions."

UNC officials said they cannot comment directly on the rape allegation because of federal privacy laws, but the school is "deeply committed to the safety and well-being of our students" and takes such allegations seriously and tries to investigate them thoroughly and fairly, Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs Joel Curran said in a statement.

Team officials said Artis has been suspended indefinitely, which is standard procedure for an athlete facing a misdemeanor. Football coach Larry Fedora declined to comment further.

During the Tuesday news conference, Branch criticized DPS as incompetent to investigate a sex assault case and UNC's Title IX office, which she said violated its own rules in handling the case.

Woodall said he's confident DPS is investigating Robinson's case properly.

"They've investigated rape cases. They've investigated murder cases over the years. We've had many successful prosecutions with the UNC Department of Public Safety," he said. "Some cases are very difficult. Some cases take deliberate, long investigations.

"The crime that's being alleged is a very, very serious crime, and it requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not just accusations," he continued. "We feel like it's our duty to properly investigate cases and not bring charges until we are convinced that there is that level of proof."

Robinson's case comes three years after several women filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights over what they called an atmosphere of sexual violence at UNC. They accused the school of under-reporting sexual assault cases and alleged that administrators had created a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assault.

As a result of that complaint and subsequent student protests, UNC revised its policy on sex assault two years ago to state that any sexual contact is considered an assault if there is no affirmative consent to it. In addition to the policy overhaul, UNC mandated that all students take an online sexual violence and harassment course, and it changed its procedures for handling sex assault cases.