Thursday, June 13

Cadet Files Sexual Discrimination Case Against Virginia Military Institute

According to the Roanoke Times, A Virginia Military Institute cadet has filed a sexual discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.

The complaint follows a reported sexual assault, and the treatment the cadet received at the hands of State police. The cadet stated in her original report that a male campus police officer came to her dorm room to investigate a theft — her roommates had come home to find their belongings disturbed, and $160 missing.

During the investigation, the officer led the cadet to the basement, ordered her to strip, and then performed a body cavity search. The officer claimed that she was a suspect herself in the theft, and that by submitting to the search, she would clear herself. The cadet discovered later that she was still considered a suspect.

State police subsequently investigated, and decided to charge her with making a false report. Consequently, she filed her sexual discrimination complaint.

As a result of the State police’s decision to charge her with making a false report, the cadet has to attend both a hearing with the Rockbridge County General District Court, and she also has to undergo an honor prosecution. If she loses, the Institute would likely deny her a degree — the cadet was originally scheduled to graduate and receive her degree in May.

The cadet is currently following the advice of her attorney, who advised her to talk with reporters about the situation so that the case is public and cannot be swept under the rug. The woman has asked that her name not be published for fear of reprisal. “If I could shut up and make it all go away, I would be sorely tempted to do it. If I could just stop talking about it, get my degree and leave the state of Virginia, I would. This will not go away. It could happen to someone else,” she has said.

The cadet originally complied with the search because, to her understanding, it was part of the investigation. It was only later that she realized the request was not typical for the situation and constituted sexual assault. Her host father, after being told of the incident, had urged her to report it to officials.

The director of VMI communications, Stewart MacInnis, has said that the cadet’s case has been turned over to state police, and he would not comment on whether the cadet’s claims had received a Title IX hearing (Title IX prohibits gender discrimination in universities). The cadet was told by the VMI that a Title IX hearing was held, but said that she was not asked for an interview. She also says that her lawyer was given a highly incomplete report.

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