Sheriff’s Department Investigates Allegations of Rape on the College of the Redwoods Campus

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 3.56.02 PMThe Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations of rape on the College of the Redwoods campus. One week ago, at 12:32 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, a report was made alleging that an individual had been sexually assaulted on campus. At this point, Selena Zorrilla-Mendoza of the Sheriff’s Office is only confirming that they are investigating the situation but will not release any more information.

College of the Redwoods is aware of the situation. “We’re taking this report extremely seriously,” said Marty Coelho, Executive Director of College Advancement at CR. “An investigation is underway.”

But neither the Sheriff’s Office nor the College is willing to comment about whether the alleged incident was reported as a stranger encounter or as an assault by someone who was known to the victim.

Statistically it is most likely the victim was female and knew her alleged attacker. According to statistics (see here for source), “91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male” and eight out of ten victims know their attacker.

Speaking generally and not about this specific case, MaryAnne Hayes Mariani of the North Coast Rape Crisis Team believes that in our small area most people know the person that assaulted them.  “In our community 90 to 95% of people know their assaulter,” she said. “We live in this small rural community and most people know each other and that’s an additional hurdle for a survivor to name their perpetrator…Because in our rape culture they know they will be judged.”

Mariani said that last year, in 2015,  “[W]e provided services to 356 survivors of sexual assault.  This includes all ages and all genders.” And this might represent only a fraction of the people actually attacked. “We responded to 1,203 calls on our crisis line last year,” she stated in an email. This might include people attacked previously or might include multiple calls by the same victims.

The numbers of victims dealt with by the Rape Crisis Team are much larger than those reported through legal channels. For instance, Humboldt County reported 14 rapes in 2014. (The latest year that rape statistics are available in the FBI crime report.)

Two of those rapes are alleged to have occurred at Humboldt State University. Statistics for the College of the Redwoods was not available on the FBI site. Nonetheless, rape on college campuses is a major problem. “One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college,” according to information provided by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Marty Coelho said that College of the Redwoods tries very hard to provide a secure environment. “We are always reviewing safety practices,” he said.

Mariani of the North Coast Rape Crisis Team urges victims to reach out to her organization. “For we are here to believe, listen and support and not judge,” she said.

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26 comments

  • Sorry, there is no “rape culture”. What there is, though, is respect for the rights of the accused and knowledge that some women will lie about being raped for a variety of self serving reasons, which merely underscores the need for thorough investigations and due process. The “rape culture” propaganda is political in nature and is not fact based.

    The sexual assault stats quoted are bogus as well, based on extremely flawed and politically self serving surveys. There are , however, valid research statistics that indicate up to 40% of rape accusations are false in some jurisdictions. All of this can easily be looked up. That rape crisis centers are parroting bogus survey results as fact shows they aren’t to be trusted.

    • Other than the one stat on what percentage of rapes are committed by people known to the victim, the statistics on rape didn’t come from the rape crisis center.

      However, if you don’t like those, here are some from the US Department of Justice: https://www.nsopw.gov/en-US/Education/FactsStatistics?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

      About 20 million out of 112 million women (18.0%) in the United States have been raped during their lifetime.

      Only 16% of all rapes were reported to law enforcement.

      In 2006 alone, 300,000 college women (5.2%) were raped.

      Among college women, about 12% of rapes were reported to law enforcement.

      Or here’s some from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
      Nearly 1 in 5 (18.3%) women and 1 in 71 men
      (1.4%) reported experiencing rape at some time in
      their lives.
      In a study of undergraduate women, 19%
      experienced attempted or completed sexual
      assault since entering college.

    • That is not the issue here Dude!

      I think the context she speaks of, “rape culture” is the way we tend to treat/rape everything, certainly rape our environment, each others pockets.. and perhaps also that in our culture some look differently upon wo/men who are the survivors of rape.

      Certainly not all accusations turn up valid…

      • Activists tend to confuse the actions of defense attorneys in the courtroom, who use the tactic of attacking the credibility of accusers to undermine the case, with society as a whole. They then call this “rape culture”, when the vast majority of people don’t excuse rapists at all. Even convicts in prison treat rapists like shit.

        Im for strongly punishing rapists harshly. I’m also for due process and the civil rights of the accused.

        • this is the 1st time i’ve heard the term “rape culture” and i personally feel rape culture is a horrible term.
          as it’s defined the term is broader than a college community, it’s meant to be used to define societal attitudes here and abroad.

          https://www.csbsju.edu/chp/health-promotion/sexual-violence/rape-culture
          “Rape culture is a term or concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are perceived to be common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s and men’s bodies and the glamorization of sexual violence. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification and trivializing rape.”

          aside: American Crime is a 10 week fictional drama series on ABC, the last episode was march 9th.
          its plot tackled the heavy issues of sexual assault, social class and mental health, among others. the victim of the sexual assault was a young man who was raped by another young man. it dealt with many aspects of the assault, and the effect of this assault on the many lives it involved.

          i found it eye-opening – it presented aspects of this fictional crime scenario i thought were intriguing.

    • It is pretty clear “the dude” is in some serious denial.

  • Shirley U. Jest

    The Dude is this thread’s spokesperson for “rape culture.” First rule of rape culture–no one talks about rape culture. Without realizing it, the Dude actually represented the very rape culture he claims doesn’t exist. Love to hear, Dude, who you support for President. The rape culture guy or one of the others.

  • As soon as I read a hyphenated name my interest in the story goes from 100% to 0%

  • So says AH hyphen 64.

  • I hope the woman is not seriously hurt and that she will come to terms with her assault. I hope she is in loving arms and feels safe now. May her journey in life never be this difficult again.

  • I was falsely accused while at a university the girl retracted her accusation. She had several drinks and I asked if she was willing. Then I asked her if she was sure she said yes. The next day she wanted to move in my dorm room I said no then she wanted 200$ to go to her family in Phoenix I didn’t have it and said no. She was angry and made a false accusation. There likely was an assault but until you know the facts listen to the people and other witnesses you can’t make an informed decision. If the allegations are true the perpetrator should be prosecutedited to the fullest extent of the law but you can’t just pre-judge someone based on statistics or say a rape culture exists in ultra liberal College of the Redwoods.

  • Several years ago there were four reported rapes on the HSU Campus. All four of the victims recanted their allegations. The alleged perpetrator’s lives were throw into turmoil and if memories serves me correctly all four left the university because of the campus is so small in student numbers everyone knew the accused. They were harassed beyond belief. The victims were not named, but the accused were named. Therefore the victims hide behind a cloak of secretiveness. Names were thrown around, but nobody knew for sure. My point is this; if a victim recants the allegation their name should be plastered across every building on campus. They should have been dismissed from campus as students. As far as I know they were not. Sexual abuse political students on campus were quick to vilify the alleged perpetrators but when the authorities announced the four accusers recanted there was no response from the students who were quick to find the accused guilty, but kept complete silence. There are definitely cases of sexual abuse. No question about that. But when the accused has no recourse after the accuser recants the allegations there needs to be a penalty for the accuser’s lying. I also refer to the Duke University case where three Lacrosse playerswere accused of raping a person. They were criminally charged and faced 25 to 40 years in prison. Evidence produced showed 100% that the victim had lied and that person later recanted the allegations. Two of the three suffered to the point to not being able to finish their degrees. There names and photos were plastered in papers and on television. They and their families had death threats and community scrutiny to the point as one father was dismissed from his employment. The accuser was not charged with any crime, but later was sent to prison for killing her boyfriend. I think the laws need to be changed. And more importantly students should be instructed as to how to behave in situations where there is a potential for sexual behavior. As a woman I know I control my sexual activity. I say when it is to happen. That being said I also have the serious responsibility of guarding against misdirected sexual advances. My father told me that protection is the best defense. I limit my alcohol consumption, I protect my friends, and I state unequivocally and directly when a person begins hitting on me. To date I have not had a problem. Teach your children well!

  • Forbodden, there are many reasons a victim may recant their statement being false is just one and not the most common one. Nobody besides the victim of a violent sexual assault can understand the emotions and fear they are experiencing. Imagine you were violently held against your will and had the most intimate parts of your body violated by someone perhaps you trust maybe a colleague, friend of the family, maybe even a family member. You goto the police and you end up in an emergency room having your body treated like a piece of evidence, you are recommended to a rape crisis center where you end up in counseling for the next year which is a good thing but also serving as a constant reminder of the experience. You have to relive the experience by telling it to the police then you get told you have to testify in court eye to eye with your attacker and in front of a room of strangers. It is an especially traumatic experience one which the victim will be scrutinized by everyone based on how they reacted, what they wore, and all sorts of outlying factors. Insensitive and ignorant people who know absolutely nothing about the case will say ‘she had it coming to her’ and ‘maybe she shouldn’t be going to parties that’s what happens’ and other ridiculous comments somehow making the victim to blame for merely having a vagina. All of these pressures can make the victim want nothing more than to crawl into a hole and die or at the very least just be forgotten about. Some people seeking professional careers can be barred from certain lines of work for being subject to an extremely violent sexual assault which may lead to a ptsd diagnosis. The assault is reported and evidence is taken because the individual wants to finger the perpetrator(s), all the evidence is there and a guilty verdict would most surely be obtained but it’s all too much for many victims to go through with it. Or in some cases the victim is not confident that a conviction will be made perhaps they throw away all their dirty clothes and shower ten times before going to the police and all they have to go on is a he said she said. Your statements do nothing more than bolster the argument of our culture being one which is conducive to rape which is what people mean by ‘rape culture’. As a society we have a long way to go in this particular aspect and your spewing of ignorance does nothing but hinder progress.

    • I think you read the stats wrongly though I must say the way I phrased it may have contributed to your misconception. The one in five refers not to rape only but to sexual assault which can be grabbing someone’s crotch, forced kissing, frottage etc.

      I’m pretty sure why most women I know believe in the one in five women has been sexually assaulted…because of the women I know well most have been sexually assaulted–often times more than once.

      After more research on the stats I think it would be fair to state that this survey found that at two universities one in five women had been sexually assaulted. I was surprised that the stats weren’t much higher. Sexual assault is such a “normalized” part of life for most women that many women, in my experience, just consider the assault “men being men.” (Though, in reality, the vast numbers of men, of course, don’t sexually assault women) I know I never reported any of the sexual assaults I experienced nor have most of the women I know.

      • In that case, I would expect 4/5 women, or more, have been sexualy assulted, by the opposite sex, and at least 3/5 men. I have been, many times. I guess we have a sexual assault culture.

        • When you ask women if they’ve ever been sexually assaulted, they often say no. But when you ask the same women specific questions, did someone ever stick their hands down your pants when you didn’t want them to or did someone ever grab your breasts or did someone try to force you to touch them intimately then, in my experience every woman over the age of 30 says yes, multiple times.

          I don’t want to speak for the experts or the victims of rape but, to my mind, that kind of behavior contributes to what I think of as rape culture–a society where people feel they can do things to your body without your consent.

          • Im sure the same is true for every man over 30 as well. Drunk, older women can be savagely aggressive when you’re a young dude.

            I think there is a tremendous difference between sticking your hand down someone’s pants and slapping someone’s ass, but both are sexual assault.

            I think many people may have a problem with the word “assault”, in the term, “sexual assault”. When I read the term, it reads as a synonym for “rape”. The term “rape” refers to sexual assault with penetration. In my mind violence is the defining factor of rape, not penetration. Defining rape as a potentially nonviolent/non-forced act, based around the concept of consent is disturbing to many people.

            Your personal definition of “rape culture” sounds like it would be more accurately described as “sexual assault culture”, to me.

            I dont know what the most widely accepted definition is , but according to wiki,

            “In feminist theory, rape culture is a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.”

            Its easy enough to argue over what qualifies as “pervasive”, but as far as “normalized”, its absolutely ridiculous to say that rape is normalized. Littering is normalized.

            Semantics seem important on this issue. If we aren’t careful to distinguish between a drunk woman slapping a guys ass, and a guy forcibly sodomizing someone in an alley, we can really do some damage to how this issue is perceived. I fear it maybe a fallacy of “slippery slope”, to say that one, necessarily leads to the other. Inconsistent definitions of “rape” and “sexual assault” as well as pervasive problems with data collection methods, make it difficult to boil the situation down to numbers.

            • I remember thinking that assault was too tough of a word at first but, over time I’ve come to change my mind. People really need to think about how they interact with other people’s body. Yes, slapping someone’s ass against their will is in no way equivalent to rape or even thrusting hands down someone’s pants but it is absolutely unacceptable.

              And I absolutely agree that inconsistent definitions ‘of “rape” and “sexual assault” as well as pervasive problems with data collection methods” make numerical calculations difficult. BUT I think the calculations will get better over time.

  • Just want the end of the story

    All this outrage on one side of the issue or the other, and there is no evidence (sorry for those who think emotions are evidence, but they’re not) that anything, in fact, in reality, took place. And I’m an old school feminist, but really, the current fad for screaming rape at each and every sexual encounter is demeaning to the real (as in they are actually, in this world and not just in their head) victims of sexual assault. (And men make up stories too, I lived in SF for years, and yes, it does happen even in the wide open gay community)

  • I think that the incident was poorly handled by CR. My daughter attends CR and lives in the dorms. Of course the school tries to keep students informed about dangerous situations on campus. Like mountain lion sightings and such. My daughter did not even know that anything happened until i called her after seeing your article a full week after it happened. The suspected rapist is still living in the dorms while the victim ( who I pray for ) has since moved out. I don’t have all of the details and things are probably not what they seem. But am I the only one who thinks that a rapist should not be allowed to stay so close to his prey? It is part of the screening process to live in a dorm to check for legal sexual offenses. Why is this guy allowed to stay? And nobody is alerted to possible danger. It probably has to do with his rights and such but it angers me that we protect criminals! Thank-you for being a trusted source of real news Redheaded Black belt. Without your report my daughter would have stayed in that mindset of thinking that her small school was immune to such issues. Unfortunately it happens everywhere.

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