Rape U

UO and its history of sexual assault

This story contains details of alleged sexual assaults that may trigger emotional distress in some readers and rape survivors. EW uses the word “alleges” not to indicate doubt in the survivor but as a legal term for when no charges have been proven in a court of law.

Kelly Goodman was at home in Boise, Idaho, when she learned of the rape allegations involving three basketball players and an 18-year-old girl at the University of Oregon. Her husband came across a news story on Reddit about the players being kicked off the team and, knowing that in 2001 Goodman had reported that she was raped by a UO sports star, he sent it to her.

The news report “brought up a lot of memories and emotions,” the mother of three says.

Talking about the time she was raped doesn’t usually bother her, Goodman says, not anymore. Yet the Idaho Air National Guard emergency medical technician says her heart rate and anxiety still increase when she thinks about that night — though nothing like the time, 11 years after the rape, that she saw the alleged rapist, who went on to a career in the NFL, at a Rose Bowl game.

“I got panicky, sweaty,” she says, adding, “I’ve been able to move forward with my life, but you think you are over it until you are faced with him.”

After the rape Goodman quit her work-study job as equipment manager for the UO football team and dropped out of school. “It affected a huge part of my life — I’m 35 and still finishing college.”

Her alleged attacker, she says, “played six or seven years in the NFL, and my life got shoved back six or seven years because of what I had to deal with.”

Thirteen years later, the recent UO rape victim released a statement through her attorney thanking the Dean of Students Office for its support, but also expressing her deep frustration with the UO. “I am angry with the culture that appears to exist in our athletic department that prioritizes winning over safety of our students. I cannot fathom how our basketball coach recruited someone who was in the middle of a suspension for another sexual assault to come to Eugene. I think that students, faculty and other community members have been asking some very needed questions of our athletic department, and I am not satisfied with the answers they have provided.”

These allegations of sexual assault, old and new, raise the question of whether the UO’s growing sports franchise is fostering a rape culture. Many on campus have been warning the institution of the problem, and there are efforts by various student, administrative and other groups to end sexual assault on campus, but the violence continues as the star of UO sports rises.

No New Thing

Goodman says of the scandal over what some media outlets have called a gang rape at the UO, “Most people think this is a new thing. It’s not; this happened 13 years ago.” She asks, “How many females did this happen to who did not report because they were up against the university?”

She continues, “I had a voice enough to report it but not enough to be taken seriously.”

In 2001, Goodman, then Kelly Zachery, was 21 years old, a single mother with a 9-month-old son, paying for school as a work-study equipment manager for the Ducks football team. She went out with a friend to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at El Torito near Valley River Center mall.

“We were of age and drinking,” she says. The night grew late and her friend wanted to leave. “I didn’t want to go home,” Goodman says. “I was having a good time, and I had a 9-month-old at home and didn’t get out much.” One of the football players, who she knew through her job, said he could give her a ride home. “It didn’t seem weird,” she says, “because we knew each other.”

The player told her that he needed to grab some stuff from his home on the way to dropping her off — he lived in Chase Village, closer to the restaurant, and she was at Spencer View, near campus. When they arrived at his empty apartment, Goodman asked to use the restroom. He told her to use the one in the bedroom, as the one in the hall was broken. When she came out, the football player was waiting in the darkened room, the door to the bedroom shut behind him.

“I’m 5’8” and weighed 140 pounds; he was 6’4” and weighed over 250 pounds,” Goodman says.

“He kissed me. I went along with it.” Then, he laid her on the bed and touched her, “and I said ‘No, stop,’ and he said ‘Go with it.’

“He put his body weight on me and said, ‘No, we are going to go through with this,’ put his arm across my chest and held me down and put a condom on.

“They say it’s not rape if there’s a condom,” Goodman says. “If you’re a little person, it’s rape.

“I just laid there.”

When the player was finished, he got up and went to the bathroom. “I went to the bathroom and we left. He gave me a ride home.”

They said nothing on the drive. When he dropped her off, the player said, “We’re not going to talk about this.”

Goodman says, “I didn’t report it until I found out I was pregnant. I got pregnant from it.” When she had gone into the bathroom that night, she says she noticed the condom in the trash looked broken.

She didn’t report it immediately because “I didn’t want to deal with cameras at my doorstep, the news.” She was already struggling with postpartum depression, caring for a baby son, attending college and dealing with being an adult with responsibilities before she was quite ready for them.

Goodman says the university “put athletes on a pedestal,” valuing sports stars over the well-being of work-study students and students paying for their education.

After she reported the incident to the UO, Goodman says she received a 7 am phone call from former Ducks football coach Mike Bellotti questioning the accuracy of her recollection of that night. “I said, ‘I know you have a daughter and you wouldn’t grill her the same way.’” EW has contacted ESPN for a response from the former coach.

If Bellotti, now a lauded ESPN analyst, was surprised by the allegations, he shouldn’t have been. One oft-cited study found that although male student athletes comprise only 3.3 percent of the collegiate population, they accounted for 19 percent of sexual-assault perpetrators.

Goodman says her best friend, a grad assistant for the team, was pressured about her allegations as well, leading her to fear he would lose his job if she kept pursuing the issue.

UO spokeswoman Julie Brown says, due to federal privacy laws, the university cannot comment on, or confirm or deny that an investigation took place.

EPD spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin researched the incident based on names provided by EW. She says, “This investigation was reviewed by the DA’s office and due to a lack of evidence, the case was not filed for criminal prosecution. Based upon the investigation the case was closed and cleared as ‘unfounded.’”

At that time the district attorney was Doug Harcleroad, and current Lane County DA Alex Gardner was a county prosecutor.

Goodman says she was told by the UO that another woman, the player’s roommate and also an athlete, claimed to be in the house at the time of the alleged assault and said she didn’t hear cries for help or Goodman saying no.

“What was the point of me screaming?” Goodman asks. “He was so much bigger and stronger than me. I needed to make sure I lived. Nobody knew he was giving me a ride home. He could have snapped and killed me, and nobody would have known — those are things that run through your mind.”

Goodman says, “As soon as I said I kissed him, as soon as I said he put a condom on,” people said it wasn’t rape. When she said she’d had an abortion, she was asked if she took DNA evidence from the fetus.

Peggy Whalen of Womenspace points out that the type of questions female rape victims are often asked would never get asked of a male robbery victim: “Do you normally go out drinking?”; “So what were you wearing?”; “Have you given money away in the past?”

Whalen says, “It’s absurd to hear those questions in that context, and that’s what we ask victims every day.”

Womenspace works to prevent intimate partner violence and support survivors, but, as Whalen points out, victim blaming crosses the spectrum from so-called date rape to domestic violence.

“I hate terms like date rape,” Whalen says, “because we don’t call it date murder or acquaintance murder; it’s a way of making [rape] less so and less big of deal.”

The Red Zone

Many UO students will tell you that such behavior — drunken group sex in a bathroom at a campus-area party — happens all the time. According to the “First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault,” “One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. Most often, the assault happens her freshman or sophomore year.” The first several weeks of college are called “the red zone” because that is when a freshman is most likely to experience rape or attempted rape.

What called the recent UO rape investigation to the public’s attention was the fact that the allegations were made against three basketball players — and that officials quickly decided not to prosecute.

Lane County DA Alex Gardner elected not to press charges of forcible rape against Damyean Dotson, 19, Dominic Artis, 18, and Brandon Austin, 19, citing among his reasons that the 18-year-old woman was not so drunk that she “appeared to have been affected to the point of perception or memory impairment.” In other words: She wasn’t drunk enough.

Robin Olafson, the Sexual Assault Examiner Program coordinator for the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force, says in the 12 years Olafson has been providing emergency room medical and forensic care to those who have been sexually assaulted, she has seen hundreds and hundreds of patients, “and I’ve only actually been subpoenaed five times.” She adds, “If we measure our success based on prosecution rates it would be pretty depressing.”

Some women, Olafson says, go through the examination and never choose to file charges. Oregon keeps rape kits for six months, she notes, giving those who have been raped time to decide what they will do.

A look at the response to the recent victim’s report sheds light on why many women might choose not to pursue justice.

A report on the alleged rape was filed with the UO police on March 9, with the EPD being notified four days later. Although the UO knew that the investigation into the victim’s allegations was ongoing by the time the NCAA tournament began on March 18, it nevertheless allowed two of the basketball players under investigation to participate.

The school pulled the players from the team after several hundred students rallied on campus and the story made national headlines. Playing in the tournament netted basketball Coach Dana Altman a $50,000 bonus, while Athletic Director Rob Mullens received $25,000. Altman would have gotten thousands more had the Ducks made it further in the tournament — they lost to Wisconsin in the round of 32.

Sports are big business at the UO. The athletic department’s projected revenues and expenses for 2014 are each around $93 million. UO’s focus on its sports began to rise in 1994 when it sent its football team to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1958.

In 1996, Nike founder Phil Knight and other donors began a push to support the sports program and soon the Nike swoosh became synonymous with the UO. The school even rebranded its O in 2001, the year Goodman says she was raped. That work continues — the UO announced June 6 that it has hired 160over90, the same firm Nike uses, for more rebranding.

Recent years have seen a $90 million makeover of Autzen Stadium, construction of a Knight-funded $41 million student-athlete tutoring center and a Knight-funded Football Performance Center — estimated at $68 million or more — complete with Ferrari leather furniture, custom green PlayStation consoles and hydrotherapy pools. The UO spent $35 million in 2013 on coaching salaries alone.

But it’s not just UO’s opulent facilities and athletic successes that make headlines; it’s also the problems its athletes have had with the law that have put the school in the limelight.

In 2010, football players Jeremiah Masoli and Garrett Embry pleaded guilty to stealing laptop computers and other items (Masoli was later kicked off the team after getting busted for pot); running back LaMichael James was arrested for domestic violence for allegedly choking his girlfriend; Duck placekicker Rob Beard was accused of brawling in a bar.

In 2011 an Oregon State Police officer pulled over a car going 118 mph. Football player Cliff Harris was at the wheel and quarterback Darron Thomas was one of the passengers. When asked “Who’s got the marijuana in the car?” Harris famously responded, “We smoked it all.”

More recently, shortly after leaving the UO football program, Colt Lyerla, who now plays in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers, was arrested in October of last year for cocaine possession. Then, on Dec. 13, 2013, football player Troy Hill was arrested for menacing and felony counts of fourth-degree assault, including strangulation, after he had an argument with his girlfriend in his apartment. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of menacing in January, and according to GoDucks.com, remains on the team.

A criminal record doesn’t often stop a sports star from playing, nor does it stop him from entering professional sports. Within one year of the 2003 rape allegations against NBA player Kobe Bryant, he had a seven-year, $136 million contract and regained his Nike sponsorship.

For women who allege rape, though, the stigma can last a lifetime.

Goodman sees a silver lining to the UO rape case. Although it might have taken some time for the story to come to light — and while the players did play for more than a month after the incident — at least, she says, this time a rape wasn’t swept under the rug.

Goodman didn’t cry when she talked about her own experience. She only choked up when asked what advice she would give the recent victim. “Life isn’t over,” Goodman says. “You’re courageous for coming forward.”

Rape on Campus

Though it precedes the current UO rape scandal by more than a decade, Goodman’s story bears a number of similarities to it. Both women were reluctant to come forward; both women had been out drinking; both incidents involved athletes; and in both cases, the Lane County district attorney did not file charges and both reports led to victim blaming.

And though Goodman and the current victim found themselves subjected to vilification and accusations of false reporting, studies indicate that the vast majority of sexual assaults reported are factual. According to the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women, false reports hover around 2 to 8 percent. The study points out that false rape statistics are sometimes skewed when a rape is deemed a false report because investigators believe the rape didn’t happen, not because the report was actually proven false.

According to BB Beltran, executive director of Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) in Eugene, one thing people can do to help those who have been assaulted is “support survivors and tell them that they believe them.”

On the surface, the university appears to be a bastion of rape prevention.

The UO has a number of professionals and volunteers trying to prevent sexual assaults and support survivors, from its Counseling Center to its Sexual Wellness Awareness Team (SWAT) and the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education division of Student Affairs. Two UO students, Samantha Stendal and Aaron Blanton, won a prestigious Peabody Award for an anti-rape PSA they created. Associate Dean of Students Sheryl Esyter says all students under 21 entering the university take an online education module that includes a section on sexual assault. There is also a required online module about sexual assault for faculty and staff.

In other ways, though, the university is failing rape victims miserably.

UO professor Jennifer Freyd co-authored the recent book Blind to Betrayal and has risen to national attention for her work on institutional betrayal. Freyd has been invited twice by the Obama administration to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Months before the UO rape case made headlines, she says, she tried to bring the institution’s attention to problems with the way it was dealing with sexual assault.

Freyd’s background as a psychology researcher is in the area of memory. Her work has focused until recently on betrayal trauma theory. “Why is betrayal so toxic?” she asks.

In 2010 Freyd and graduate student Carly Smith began to research institutional betrayal on the college level. Institutional betrayal happens when someone, such as a student, is dependent upon an institution and that institution violates her trust by not preventing wrongdoings by other individuals within that institution, or by not supporting her afterward.

Freyd has taught at the UO since 1987 and says she thought incidents of institutional betrayal at the UO would be pretty rare, but she and Smith went ahead with the research using the school’s human subjects pool, which is made up of undergraduate students who are available for research. The majority of women, 68 percent, reported at least one unwanted sexual experience, and 46 percent of those reported some sort of institutional betrayal. The article, called “Dangerous Safe Havens: Institutional Betrayal Exacerbates Sexual Trauma,” was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

The article came out in the spring of 2013. “People began to call me,” Freyd says. And she realized, “I think we have a real problem at the UO.”

She wrote an email to the school’s new president, Michael Gottfredson, and says she was surprised that rather than be defensive, Gottfredson said, “Let’s collaborate; let’s do a study.”

After the initial response, however, the university’s enthusiasm appeared to wane. With no response over the summer, Freyd tried again in the fall.

Finally, at the beginning of January 2014, Freyd says she met with Greg Rikhoff, Gottfredson’s chief of staff. She was seeking access to employee lists and emails to start doing the research. “I was still thinking they would help,” she says. A meeting with Scott Coltrane, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was pushed to the end of March.

Hampered by the university’s apparently tepid interest, Freyd found other routes to begin her research and gather information. She discovered problems with how the UO sanctioned perpetrators — sometimes sending them out to do interviews as a part of an education component. “Sending a perpetrator to a young woman to interview her, that’s terrible,” she says.

Freyd says, “Until May 5, I was giving them the benefit of the doubt.” That was the day the news of the rape allegations broke. Freyd checked for a Clery alert — required reports of alleged crimes on and around campus — as well as report in the UO police log. She found neither.

Kelly McIver of the UO police department says a Clery warning must be released in a timely manner, but “never in the law do they put a time limit on it,” adding that it “really should be as soon as possible.” McIver continues, “If you have a known perpetrator or pending or current crime, sometimes the jurisdictional agency says ‘don’t put anything out because people will flee or get stories together.’”

Freyd has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that the UO violated the federal Jeanne Clery Act, which applies to colleges and universities participating in federal student financial aid programs. Rape falls under the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, but when it involves campus it becomes a federal issue. The Department of Education is reviewing the claim and can fine a university up to $35,000 per Clery violation.

Freyd told the UO Board of Trustees in a June 7 email that she believes the campus “is not safe or equitable for our students,” and that her request for university support for a campus climate survey was rejected. According to Freyd, a campus climate survey is a process to obtain “true rates of sexual victimization and related experiences,” and is one of the recommendations of the White House Task Force.

Freyd wasn’t the only one worried the university had a problem. Back in 2011, UO Professor Cheyney Ryan, who is also a senior research fellow at Oxford, told the UO it needed to do a campus climate survey, saying that it was an obligation under Title IX. Title IX is a federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding. Sexual assault and harassment are considered discrimination based on sex.

In September 2012, Ryan wrote the school that “Currently, the University of Oregon fails to comply with its obligations under Title IX regarding sexual harassment and its discriminatory impact on students. Attempts by faculty to get the administration to address this have been met with indifference, annoyance and hostility — but mainly indifference.”

The Basketball Rape Allegations

The 18-year-old victim of the alleged rape by the three Ducks basketball players has sought to stay anonymous. The police report and the victim’s statement are disturbingly detailed accounts of the assault. As alleged assailant Damyean Dotson told the girl in a phone conversation that was secretly recorded for the police, “he would not want anyone to do that to his mom or sister.”

“That” is what the police report goes into in graphic detail.

The victim told police, “I thought maybe this was just what happens in college … just college fun.” She said initially she was OK going into the bathroom at an off-campus party with three guys, but “did not want to have sex. No way did I want to be fucked by three people at once.”

She tells of starting off the night with a couple of shots of what she thought was peach vodka before heading to a party near campus where the basketball team would be celebrating its “big win” against Arizona State. When that party was busted, they went to another gathering, where she met her alleged assailants, two of whom, Austin and Dotson, grabbed her arm and took her into a bathroom, not “mean or anything, just forceful.”

She told the police she knew who the men were because not only did they call each other by name, but she recognized them because “they looked like they do on the basketball cards they hand out at games.”

In the bathroom, she writes the players asked her to “shake her ass,” which she did “reluctantly,” and she told them to stop taking off her clothes. The players took her phone away, she says — an act that, by itself, is prosecutable in many jurisdictions — unzipped their pants “and were forcing my head down and put their penises in my mouth.”

The woman told the police that while one man forced her to perform oral sex, another raped her from behind. “I was choking, I remember saying no through the whole thing.” Afterward, she left and got a drink of water — another factor the DA pointed to in his no-file ruling. She says she was pulled back into the bathroom and forced to perform oral sex again.

According to the police report, which the DA cited in his decision not to prosecute, other party-goers said that the young woman didn’t seem upset and did not ask for help. The decision not to prosecute is hardly unique. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 97 percent of rapists do not go to jail.

Due to federal student privacy laws, the progress of any UO internal investigation is not public. The victim is now represented by Colorado attorney John Clune, who has litigated a number of campus assault cases as well as the sexual assault civil suit against Kobe Bryant.

With police, prosecutors and institutions like UO failing to bring rapists to justice, those looking to prevent sexual assaults are turning to bystander education — letting people know when to step in. Making that approach work, though, requires education for those who believe rape myths such as if a “woman is drunk she is asking for it” and are thus less prone to intervene and stop a rape from happening.

Bystander vigilance is especially important in cases involving high-profile assailants. A young woman at a party might not feel comfortable telling other party-goers she is worried about what’s happening between her and the stars who just won a basketball game.

After leaving the party, the woman says she got into a taxi with the players and went to another apartment. The men took her to a bedroom where she says “I think I just gave up. I let them do whatever they wanted. I just wanted it to be over and go to sleep.”

The young woman told the Eugene police that her assailants “stopped when she started crying, and one of them said, ‘I think we fucked her too hard.’”

She told the police she spent the night at Artis’ apartment because she was too intoxicated to get home. Artis later told the police that the two had sex again in the morning, which the victim confirmed.

Whalen of Womenspace says in cases of rape, as in cases of domestic violence, “We look for signs of resistance as proof of being a victim. Did she scream, kick or bite?” She says that society thinks how much resistance a victim provides adds legitimacy to her accusations of assault. But Whalen says, “In situations with alcohol or drugs or multiple perpetrators, the victim just sometimes acquiesces,” because she knows she is overpowered.

Burden of Proof

Most media outlets have focused on the UO and its handling of the case — students and editorial writers have called for Coach Altman to resign when it was pointed out that Austin was the subject of a sexual assault investigation by Rhode Island’s Providence Police Department. Austin was suspended from the Providence College team before leaving and joining the Ducks. Altman, though, said he was unaware of the exact nature of the allegations against Austin.

There is no mechanism that provides a student’s criminal history to the university prior to enrollment, according to McIver. He says that “Doing a criminal history check without legitimate (criminal justice) cause or without a person’s prior consent isn’t permissible.”

In addition to Oregon’s handling of the rape allegations, the DA’s reasoning for not filing charges has also been called into question.

Gardner released a detailed statement to the media, discussing his reasons for not pressing charges soon after the case came to light. He said, “While there is no doubt the incidents occurred, the conflicting statements and actions by the victim make this case unprovable as a criminal case.”

The DA’s statement reads more like that of a defense attorney than that of a prosecutor. Among the reasons the DA cited for not prosecuting the case — in addition to the belief that her level of intoxication was insufficient to warrant charges — are that the victim was upset with her father for reporting the incident and that the taped conversations between the woman and the suspects “are consistent with suspects’ version of consensual sex, or at least their belief it was consensual sex.”

UO comparative literature professor Leah Middlebrook fired off an email to the Office of the Dean of Students expressing concern over Gardner’s statements, writing that they “sound like they are out of the ’70s.” She said later that Gardner’s remarks “have every likelihood of exercising a chilling effect on the willingness of students who have been targeted for assault to seek help and support from our community.” And she expressed particular concern for students who might be targeted because they are queer or because of their race, faith or other diversity issues.

“The DA’s presentation in his press conference violated pretty much every protocol of how to treat someone who has reported having been a target of sexual assault,” Middlebrook says. “Because the DA foreclosed the possibility of a trial, the young woman has no opportunity to defend herself in public; whereas he set hearsay regarding her behavior into the public record for any casual reader to judge.”

Middlebrook points out: “It’s important to remain clear that the DA is not affiliated with the UO. But the actions of the DA and of the police department have cast light on a very big problem for the UO community.”

Forcible rape has a mandatory minimum sentence of eight years in Oregon. When EW asked Gardner if a lesser charge could have been filed, he responded with a detailed email that also included “some analysis by a reviewing state’s attorney in the so-called UO basketball case that’s gotten so much attention.”

According to Gardner’s email, “All the individuals were over 18, all agree that sexual penetration took place, and none were alleged to be mentally deficient.” He writes, “Given that, there were only two possible legal theories of Rape in the First Degree.” Those theories are “forcible compulsion of the victim” and “victim incapacity to consent due to extreme intoxication.”

The email concludes with the statement that it’s “odd the Oregon media hasn’t even considered the possibility that the UO basketball players may be factually innocent. If they are innocent they’ve been treated very poorly indeed.”

Rape Culture/Sports Culture

Freyd says that in the past 10 years — since the sports program has taken off — things seem to have gone downhill, even as efforts on campus have been stepped up to address sexual assault and survivors. The UO has multiple campaigns, web pages and groups dedicated to helping prevent sexual assault and to help survivors.

The UO now has mandatory reporting — meaning that if a student reports a sexual assault to a professor or other staffer outside of the counseling center, that employee must report what she has been told, regardless of what the victims wants.

Many of those involved in sexual assault support don’t see mandatory reporting as an improvement. BB Beltran of SASS says “mandatory reporting is not survivor centered,” and that it is “well established that it does not create a safer community.”

For 10 years, SASS has contracted with the Associated Students of the UO to provide free, confidential support and advocacy services to students who experience sexual violence, but this year the school waited until the academic year was almost over before signing the contract.

Many rape victims and survivors don’t want to report — Beltran says SASS has 3,000 contacts a year, but law enforcement agencies around Lane County report far fewer rapes. She says during 2012-2013 SASS worked with 57 student survivors. “That’s one new survivor a week.”

Beltran says SASS doesn’t ask people if they are students; the number is based on those who self-identify, so she thinks the number of students who have been sexually assaulted is much higher. “There’s no rhyme or reason but our numbers do increase with the start of the university,” she says.

High-profile media cases such as the UO basketball case “serve a few purposes,” Beltran says, bringing to light a typically unspoken aspect of university life. But, Beltran says, “The survivor is often blamed for what happened.” Rape is “one of the only crimes I know of where the victim is more ‘at fault’ than the perpetrator,” she says.

Part II of this story will discuss what work is being done on the UO campus and in the community to prevent sexual assault and support survivors.


UO spokeswoman Julie Brown says no police report was filed by the UO police department on March 9, the day the victim’s father contacted UOPD and the players were suspended May 1, according to the UO’s official timeline, she says. That announcement was not made to the media until May 9.

Part II Dropping the Ball

Part III Fighting a Rape Culture 

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