UNC-CH student claims retaliation for speaking publicly about ra - WNCN: News, Weather

UNC-CH student claims retaliation for speaking publicly about rape

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A woman at UNC-Chapel Hill claims she was raped; but now she says the university is charging her with an honor code violation for "intimidating" the student who she says raped her.

Landen Gambill was one of several students who spoke out publicly about a complaint she and others filed claiming the university pressured an administrator into under-reporting sexual assault cases.

That complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

Gambill says she was raped by an ex-boyfriend over a year ago when she was a freshman.

Because she has been outspoken about that incident and the complaint, she believes the university is retaliating against her for talking by charging her with an honor code violation.

"My abuser had filed a complaint against me saying I was making an intimidating environment for him on campus," explained Gambill.

She said she finds that charge hard to believe because she has never mentioned her accusers name in public, and that "even my closest friends have no idea what his name is."

WNCN asked if she ever confronted her accuser in public or private or made threats to him in any way.  "No," Gambill said, "I haven't talked to him in almost a year now."

On campus, some students are worried about the chilling effect the retaliation allegations might have.

"Having the honor court come after you for bring attacked; you just wouldn't want to have to deal with that," said freshman Charlotte Fare.

Other female students say it's tough enough for a woman to come forward to report a sexual assault and to then add the fear of honor court retaliation makes it even more difficult.

"That's going to deter a lot of people from reporting if they've actually been hurt," said freshman Allison Stitt. "No one wants to be punished for something like that if they were a victim in the first place."

And that's what Landen Gambill believes has happened to her because she went public.

"I've been talking to the media about the way the university has mistreated me and that's why I think the university's decision to charge me with an honor code violation is an example of their retaliation against me for speaking out," she said.

UNC denies retaliation saying it doesn't tell student prosecutors what cases to bring before the honor court and thus Gambill's claim "is without merit."

Gambill says her outspokenness is designed as constructive criticism for the school.

"I haven't spoken out about what happened because I hate the university or am angry at them or to get back at anyone; I just want this to be a safe place for all students and a place where survivor's voices are heard," Gambill said.

A hearing on that honor code violation is still several weeks away.

Meanwhile, the complaint filed by Gambill and the others is still being reviewed by the US Deptartment of Education.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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