Woman Sues College For Forcing Her To Confront Her Alleged Rapist

A woman is suing her college for allegedly forcing her to question and be cross-examined by her rapist, The Journal News newspaper reported on Monday.

In her suit, Sarah Tubbs, 22, accused Stony Brook University in New York of making her personally confront her alleged attacker during a disciplinary hearing despite having no prior legal training, according to the paper. Tubbs had initially reported the rape to the university in order to have disciplinary charges brought against her rapist.

Tubbs’ lawsuit was seeking to end the practice of forcing victims to “prosecute their own cases and to cross-examine and be cross-examined by their assailants” at such hearings, the paper reported.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged rape occurred on Jan. 26, 2014 after Tubbs went to the man’s dorm room and changed her mind about having sex with him. The Journal News did not identify the alleged rapist because no criminal charges had been brought against him.

The lawsuit also said that when Tubbs attempted to file a complaint with campus police she was told she didn’t have a case. An officer also told her the district attorney’s office would probably agree “because she did not scream ‘No,’ or violently fight back.”

So, instead of pursuing charges against her assailant, Tubbs sought a university disciplinary action. She told the paper she wanted “some type of justice” and wanted the man to “know he did something wrong.”

During the hearing, Tubbs said she was required to make her case against the man. She said she wasn’t allowed to bring her therapist to the hearing and was only separated from the man by a paper screen. Tubbs also said there were no police or security officers at the five-hour hearing, which took place in May.

“I would say the hardest part was hearing his voice because it’s the voice I hear in my flashbacks,” Tubbs told the newspaper. “One of my biggest concerns … was that he would get aggressive and retaliate.”

After the hearing, Tubbs’ alleged rapist was found not guilty. According to Tubbs, she was given an appeal in August but has yet to hear from the university and has been unable to make contact.

“I don’t think it’s the rape that makes the person a victim,” Tubbs said. “I think it’s the systemic failure that makes someone from a survivor to a victim. … I can honestly say I won’t stop fighting until those systems change.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ahiza Garcia is a newswriter based in New York City. Before joining TPM, Ahiza interned and freelanced for Nightline, Fox Sports, and ESPN the Magazine. She holds a B.A. in psychology from Columbia University and an M.S. in digital journalism from Syracuse University. She can be reached at ahiza@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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