BYU students: We were punished for reporting rape

Madi Barney only reported her alleged rape to police, it happened off-campus

(CNN) – Margot Crandall: “He had taken photos and videos during the rape and he threatened to expose those.”

Brooke: “He started, like, touching me and stuff so I tried to get up and leave.

Madeline Macdonald: I’ve got boundaries, I’ve got these strict lines that you’re not crossing and he didn’t care about those.

Madi Barney: “I was just sitting there crying, saying, I don’t want to report. I can’t do this. What if BYU finds out?

Their stories of rape and sexual assault, traumatic and horrifying, but it’s what happened after their school found out that’s sparking outrage.

Brooke: “It was just really scary.”

Brooke’s nightmare began in February of 2014. She says she had taken hallucinogenic drugs just before being assaulted.

Brooke: “Over the course of the next 45 minutes, in like, different ways, he raped me.”

She reported it to police, but too afraid to face her alleged attacker in court, decided not to press charges. Three months later she told her school- Brigham Young University.

Brooke: “I thought it would be a simple process to report him and have he be kicked out, you know?”

Ana: “Because he’s a student?”

Brooke: “Yeah, he was a student there, but instead of getting support, Brooke was suspended.”

BYU, a private university run by the Mormon Church, determined Brooke had violated its honor code. A student code of conduct that prohibits the use of illegal drugs and alcohol as well as pre-marital sex.

Madi Barney: “I waited about four days to report because I was scared of my standing at BYU.”

Madi Barney only reported her alleged rape to police, it happened off-campus. So, she was shocked when she got a call from BYU’s title ix office which investigates sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Barney: “What she essentially said on that phone call was ‘we received a police report and in it a) we think you may have been raped, and b) it looks like you probably violated the honor code as well.”

Barney learned her police report was given to BYU by a friend of her alleged rapist

Barney: “I felt so betrayed because they read every single thing that happened to me. Every detail and they just kind of didn’t care.”

In fact, she says now she’s facing backlash from BYU for not answering all their questions, her attorney told her not to, until after her criminal trial this fall. The school won’t let her register for future classes, until she cooperates with the honor code office.

Carri Jenkins, a BYU Spokeswoman, said “A student would never, never, never be an honor code review for reporting sexual assaults. For being a victim of sexual assault.”

Ana: “How does that victim then end up being disciplined by the honor code office?

Jenkins: “I wouldn’t know I wouldn’t be able to speculate on any one situation.”

While the school can’t talk about specific cases, it did issue this additional statement, saying, in part: “Sometimes in the course of an investigation, facts come to light that a victim has engaged in prior honor code violations…in all honor code proceedings, the university strives for fairness, sensitivity and compassion….The university’s overriding concern is always the safety and well-being of its students.”

Barney: “I think their first and foremost priority is protecting the university. It’s not protecting the students.”

Ana: “And I see you shaking your head, do you guys agree?

Others: “Yeah, Yeah.”

Since Barney went public with her story. Other victims have felt empowered to share theirs.

Madeline Macdonald said “You’re not reporting someone else, you’re reporting yourself when you go in. At least, that’s my perception of the title 9 office. You are presumed guilty.”

Margot Crandall: “As soon as they got the legal documents saying that my rapist had been convicted. That’s when they gave me accommodations and helped me withdraw from classes. And they didn’t offer any of that until they had the court documentation.”

Kelsey Bourgeois, a rally organizer, said, “I’m a sexual assault survivor. I was raped here in this community, while I was attending BYU.”

Ana: “Did you report it?”

Kelsey: “No I did not. For this exact reason.”

Ana: “You were too afraid?”

Kelsey:” Yes.”

Kelsey bourgeois recently led a protest march through campus – with a petition signed by more than a hundred thousand, calling on the university to give immunity to those who report rape or sexual assault. The university says it’s now studying current practices and procedures.

Jenkins said, “We want to look at the relationship between the title ix office and the honor code office. We want to look at whether and how information is shared. We want to look at the perception students have.”

Barney: “It’s not a perception. It’s something that is actually happening and that’s them, again, not believing us.

Macdonald: “I don’t know why they feel the need to even do a study. Like, there’s overwhelming evidence. So many people have come forward”

Brooke: “It’s just a school whose policies are very messed up right now and aren’t in line with what love and mercy is.”

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