Man accused of raping 2 UT students in fraternity house, sending 'I'm sorry' text
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —
Two women at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville say a fellow student and fraternity member raped them both after a formal on November 29.
According to court documents, the man accused even sent a text saying, “I’m sorry.”
FOX 17 News has chosen not to mention names of the students involved because no criminal charges have been filed at the time of this report.
One of the women reported she had been raped to police the next day, but the other woman didn't want to speak with police about it, according to the affidavit, but says she was also raped by the same man.
In court records, the two women say they "blacked out" from being severely intoxicated before the reported rape by a known acquaintance at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house.
On the morning of November 30, one woman told police she woke up naked at the frat house, with her clothes and all of her belongings in a different room, the room of the man she says raped her.
The next day, the first woman says she received text messages from the student she believes raped her, one stating "I’m sorry," followed by a second message saying, "I fu**** up and will stay out of ur life now and again I’m sorry."
The affidavit suggests these text messages are an admission of guilt, but lawyer Erik Herbert says not necessarily.
“In analyzing that statement, you're interpreting it as 'he messed up in doing what'” Herbert questioned.
Herbert says simply saying “I’m sorry” isn't enough to prosecute a rape case, you need implicating statements.
“Was the text message 'sorry I raped you?' there's a huge difference between that and a text message that says, 'I’m sorry,'” he said.
However, the woman says the man later called her and admitted he had sex with both of them.
Amy Gibbs is a victim's rights advocate and a survivor herself.
“A few years ago, I was drugged and sexually assaulted by someone I thought was my friend,” Gibbs said.
She said following that attack, she became suicidal.
“You know, people, they don't see the damage that's done in the aftermath,” Gibbs said.
Two days later, on December 1st, the university's police department executed a search warrant in the accused rapist's room and found two condoms and a pair of the first woman's underwear, among other things.
The affidavit says this evidence could demonstrate that the man committed aggravated rape, which, if convicted, could send him to prison for up to 60 years.
The second student who claims she was raped in the fraternity house did not want to talk to police about it, and Gibbs says she understands why.
She says when she reported her sexual assault, people were extremely negative and hateful.
The university issued a safety notice about the report of rape, saying the female students received medical care and would receive support from the university. The Clery Act requires the university to notify the campus community of certain criminal activity that happens on university-owned or controlled property.
"Every sexual assault incident is different for each individual, and the university supports and respects the decisions made by the student involved on how they wish to proceed," the safety notice says in part.
The fraternity was investigated by the university's office of student conduct and community standards on Jan. 15 and agreed to the following sanctions: social probation until May 1 and disciplinary probation until December 1, 2019. In addition, members are restricted from having guests in the on-campus house until May 1.
The university's police department continues their criminal investigation into the reported rape. The Knoxville Police Department said they only assisted with processing the crime scene for evidence.
The Knox County District Attorney's Office said they cannot comment on matters sent to their office for review.