Utah State University has been accused of covering up the rape of a student that occurred in 2009. The events came to light when the student took to Facebook to share her experience.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the student, Whitney McPhie Griffith, a former piano performance student wrote that she was raped off-campus by a faculty member in the spring of 2009.
Her post was widely shared and eventually came to the attention of school administrators. Many other students have shared their own experiences of attacks while at the school as well. This in turn as caused the president of Utah State University to apologize and order an investigation into the 2009 incident and how it was handled after Griffith reported it.
Griffith says that she didn’t initially tell anyone about the incident, which she says happened in April or May of 2009. Four months later, she reported it to the university’s Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information (SAAVI) office as well as to Title IX department.
While I was at Utah State University in 2009, I was raped by an instructor in the piano department. I didn’t tell anyone for a while, until I sunk into a deep depression and everything in my life seemed to be completely falling apart. I called my dad one day about four months later in hysterics and told him what had happened.
She also added that the school set up a meeting with her alleged attacker.
Uh, what the fuck? They made a rape victim come face to face with her attacker for what purpose?? It’s hard enough for a rape victim to report the incident without also having a meeting
Griffith also wrote:
Their solution was to talk with this individual. They set up a meeting with him and the head of the department, and he was told to knock it off- essentially given a slap on the wrist. He said that he was sorry and that he was now ‘on the straight and narrow’ and was turning things around. And that was the end of that.
Cause that’s how you deal with a sexual assault!
Griffith stated that the following school year when she returned, she discovered that:
one of the required courses for piano performance majors was dropped from my schedule, after the semester had begun, because the head of the department ‘didn’t want there to be any drama’ (between me and the instructor/rapist).
Afterwards, she says she was made to feel unwelcome in the department. Griffith wrote:
After hearing that the instructor/rapist had also been assaulting other students in the piano program during this same period, my anxiety became so debilitating that I withdrew from USU altogether the following year.
So not only did he assault her, but he was hurting other students in the same program and all he got was a slap on the wrist for hurting her let alone the other students.
Because of Griffith’s Facebook post, Utah State University President Noelle E. Cockett told students in a video message Friday that there will be an investigation into how the university handles reports of sexual assaults and Griffiths case will be reopened. Cockett stated:
Not only are we investigating the concerns that students have raised about sexual harassment, sexual assault, bullying, etc.We are also investigating whether or not the university acted appropriately in 2009. … If we discover during this investigation that we are not doing enough or we are not acting appropriately, change will occur.
According to the report, the school is currently under investigation by the US Department of Justice after a series of high profile sexual assault prosecutions by students.
You can read Griffith’s full post below: