Editor’s note: This story details allegations of sexual assault. It relies on in-depth reporting, including multiple interviews with the victim and alleged perpetrator; interviews with the victim’s friends; Title IX documents; emails and text messages. All names have been changed to protect the privacy of the victim. For questions about our reporting processes, please firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the morning of Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, Kat (not her real name), a freshman, woke up early for an 8 a.m. class. She was groggy and tired from going out the night before, but the class had an attendance policy, and she didn’t want to be counted absent.
A good friend of hers with whom she’d been having a fling, Jason (not his real name), was asleep in the bed next to her. They both lived in Minton Hall, but Kat had decided to stay with Jason so she wouldn’t have to walk to her own room (it was pretty common for her to stay with Jason or her other friends after a night out, they would both later confirm). She and Jason had made out occasionally in the past, but never anything more. She’d been hoping their casual fling would turn into a relationship but suspected he didn’t feel the same way.
Kat gathered her belongings and tried to push off memories of the night before. The reality hadn’t set in. She left Jason still asleep in his bed, went down to her own room to change clothes and left for class.
As her professor lectured, she couldn’t shake the feeling that what had happened the night before was wrong. There was the peach vodka, the “Risky Business”-themed frat party with a few of her good friends, everyone hanging out in Jason’s dorm afterward and the vague recollection of sex with Jason. She said she knew she was too drunk to consent to it.
“I’m really drunk,” she said she remembers saying. “I don’t think I want to do this.”
He put his hand over her mouth and shushed her. He said later in an interview it was only for a second. His roommate was asleep across the room, and he said he didn’t want him to hear. Kat said the rest of the incident was foggy.