SGA President Collin Sullivan and Executive President Vrinda Deshpande responded to allegations that UMBC Police Chief Paul Dillon has mishandled sexual assault cases. Photo by Julia Arbutus.
UMBC Student Government Association President Collin Sullivan and Vrinda Deshpande have written an email to President Freeman Hrabowski calling for the immediate resignation of Police Chief Paul Dillon. The email was released in the wake of recent reports by media outlets claiming that Dillon, along with other officials, has worked to cover up rape allegations.
The email states, “Following a report from The Baltimore Brew of the litigation against UMBC, the Baltimore County Police Department, and others in the case of mishandling reports of sexual assault, we are appalled and disgusted with the alleged inaction of Officer Dillon and the Campus Police.” It further mentions that, “We live in a society where sexual assault is not only tolerated, but accepted as a cultural norm. In light of the #MeToo movement, we are all too aware of how systemically common it is to silence survivors of sexual assault.”
Recent media coverage has called attention to a case filed by Anna Borkowski and Katelyn Frank. The suit alleges that university officials have actively worked to manipulate statistics and evidence regarding rape complaints when the two women came forward to report their assault. According to a Baltimore Brew article, the lawsuit alleges that Dillon persuaded her to allow the university to handle the case administratively and not to report the rape to the police. The complaint states, “This is functionally impossible as Defendant Dillon was a sworn police officer with various reporting duties.” Dillon has not responded to requests from media outlets for comment.
It is further claimed that both Frank and Borkowski had their cases closed due to intentional misclassification as being “under suspicious circumstances.” The suit claims that despite evidence of rape from a rape kit, Borkowski’s case was “cleared” in less than 24 hours due to there being “exceptional circumstances.” The suit goes on to allege that despite Frank’s rape kit test also yielding a positive result for sexual assault, the evidence was destroyed after 30 days and the case was classified as “suspicious circumstance.”
Other defendants in the lawsuit include state attorney Scott Shellenberger, the Maryland State University System’s Board of Regents and Lisa Dever. The lawsuit claims that Shellenberger had dispatched officers to a survivor’s house to intimidate them against pressing further charges. The complaint states, “This is not a ‘failure to protect’ lawsuit; it is about intentional misconduct designed to cover up justifiable complaints of sexual assault.”
Sullivan and Deshpande’s email calls for immediate action to protect students who come forward, saying that, “These reports deeply contradict our values at UMBC as an inclusive, caring community. Recognizing the faults of our own community members is more than disheartening, but we cannot ignore the implications of these allegations. No student should ever feel silenced, discouraged, or unsafe.” SGA officers have declined to comment beyond their initial statement.
Recently, Gina Maisto-Smith and Leslie Gomez, former child abuse and sex crimes prosecutors, hosted a workshop open to students and faculty about Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Response Training on the UMBC campus. All of this is part of a broader movement spearheaded by #MeToo to enact systemic change regarding the handling of sexual assault and rape. Frank and Borkowski’s case remains open and active.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that President Hrabowski led the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Response Training. He, in fact, did not.