After College Rape Allegation, Cops Went After Accuser

Charges now dropped against her in controversial University of Kansas case
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2019 11:06 AM CDT
After College Rape Allegation, Cops Went After Accuser
Students walk in front of Fraser Hall on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kan., on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Charges were dropped Monday in a controversial University of Kansas case involving a rape allegation. In this case, however, the controversy arose because police ended up investigating the accuser and not the accused, reports the Washington Post. Details and coverage:

  • The allegation: In September 2018, a 30-year-old grad student told police that she was raped by a male acquaintance during homecoming weekend. The woman says she drank so much she blacked out, then woke up in the man's bed, reports KCTV. She told police she remembered telling him no, but he didn't stop.
  • Her texts: The woman handed over her phone to officers at a hospital, where she had gone to have swabs taken for a rape kit, and they read texts in which she referred to a "borderline rape." In the hours immediately after the alleged attack, she wrote, "It's gross ... he's actually really good at sex though," and "Get here fast. I'm literally about to have a breakdown." In court documents, the woman later said she made light of what happened because at that point she still didn't want to admit that she'd been raped, per the Kansas City Star. It's a common reaction of rape victims, say her defenders.

  • The charges: After reading the texts, however, officers quickly decided the woman was lying and launched an investigation. "We discussed it and none of us believed this was a legitimate claim of rape," one testified, per KCTV. The office of Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson eventually charged her with three felony counts of filing a false report. Authorities also looked at the texts of the man she accused, including one that night to a friend: "We got on the road and she was so f---ed up I was like hell Na."
  • Dropped: The case drew much local attention and scrutiny, and on Monday, Branson announced that he was dropping the charges. However, he added that "we believe in the merits of this case and are confident the facts would be borne out at trial." He called out media "misinformation" surrounding the case and discounted the woman's injuries documented at the hospital, saying that "bruising and hemorrhaging can be there with normal consensual intercourse."
  • Criticism: At the Star, Melinda Henneberger is among those criticizing the DA. If he truly thought he had a case, you can be sure he would have gone to trial, she writes. Taking note of his pledge to revamp guidelines in such cases, she adds, "That would have to start, though, with an admission of where police and prosecutors went wrong, and an apology to the woman they charged and were prepared to put behind bars."
(Read more University of Kansas stories.)

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