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Students expelled following sexual assault investigation

Police investigation into alleged campus incident last year; no criminal charges filed

Two UMBC students have been dismissed from campus for violating the student code of conduct following the alleged sexual assault of another student last August.

Dinah Winnick, UMBC’s Director of Communications, confirmed that two students were expelled following disciplinary hearings related to the alleged sexual assault of a female student. The identities of the two accused individuals and the victim have not been released, and officials declined to comment on the exact violations of the student code of conduct.

Police and school officials first said that they were investigating “a suspicious incident” in December. According to police reports obtained by the Baltimore Sun, the incident consisted of allegations that four male students had gang-raped a female student in a dorm in August.

The woman who reported the assault told authorities that someone had told her in October that she had supposedly had sex with four students at a party back in August, according to a county police report. The accused students who were interviewed claimed that the sex was consensual.

After being told by an investigator that the suspects had described the sexual encounter in detail and that “she had made inconsistent statements,” the woman revealed that she had not wanted to get the accused students into trouble. She also stated that her father had insisted upon her reporting the incident to the police.

Winnick cited federal privacy laws for why the school did not release the identities of those involved. Baltimore County detectives did not charge anyone in the case, stating that there was no evidence that a crime occurred.

Laura Dunn, founder of the national organization SurvJustice and the victim’s attorney, said that she is “happy the campus investigated and took this seriously.” Dunn said, “that’s not something you see at every school.”

Poulomi Banerjee, a junior health administration and public health major, similarly commended UMBC’s handling of the incident. “I’m glad that UMBC handled the investigation appropriately according to the woman. There have been schools where nothing happened to the suspect,” she said. “UMBC’s pretty good with [the] GreenDot program as well as the advocates who are teaching students about this.”

At the same time, questions have arisen concerning the county police’s handling of the woman’s allegations. According to Dunn, police interviewed only three of the four men originally accused. Furthermore, police supposedly did not utilize “swipe records” of key cards to determine who entered and left the building in which the assault allegedly occurred.

Banerjee raised similar concerns when discussing the police investigation. “Only two of [the four men] were expelled, so what happened with the other two? Specifically, what happened with that one who wasn’t interviewed?” she posed.

When reached to for comment by the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger declined to comment on the case. He said simply that the police lacked enough evidence to proceed with an investigation.

The woman’s father released a statement through Dunn criticizing the police for releasing information to media, according to the Sun. He also criticized what he described as a lack of “due diligence” on the legal system’s part.

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