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Old 10-18-2007, 06:10 PM   #1
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Rape Survivor Denied Treatment Because She "Appeared Intoxicated"

She appeared that way because she was given a date rape drug.

huffingtonpost.com

A 19-year-old woman is suing George Washington University after being denied treatment on the night of her rape because she "appeared intoxicated."

The plaintiff, a 19-year-old sophomore, also filed suit against the District, Howard University Hospital and several local doctors. The complaint states she was given a date-rape drug at an off-campus party near Howard and was then denied a rape kit at several hospitals - including GW.


..."There is no legitimate reason why it was handled this way," said Bruce Spiva, her attorney. "She has really been hurt by this and is reluctant to speak out publicly."

Even when the woman went to the police, she was denied help.

"A sexual assault kit is for police to recover evidence," said Sergeant Ronald Reid of the MPD Sex Assault Unit. "So if we don't have reason to believe a crime happened we wouldn't administer a rape kit."

So they didn't believe a crime had been committed because she appeared intoxicated? (Which isn't a shock considering she was drugged.) Make sure to read the whole story of her assault and subsequent horror story at multiple hospitals. It's just too depressing for words.
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:15 PM   #2
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the link wouldn't post so here's the GW student newspaper story

A Howard student is suing the University for negligence and medical malpractice because she said she was raped and denied proper care at GW Hospital because she allegedly appeared intoxicated, according to documents filed in D.C. Superior Court.

The plaintiff, a 19-year-old sophomore, also filed suit against the District, Howard University Hospital and several local doctors. The complaint states she was given a date-rape drug at an off-campus party near Howard and was then denied a rape kit at several hospitals - including GW.

A rape kit is a collection of bodily fluids and samples taken after a possible sexual assault to help identify the perpetrator. It can include semen, blood and body tissue.

GW Hospital allegedly denied her treatment because doctors at Howard said she appeared intoxicated, according to court documents.

The Hatchet is withholding the female student's name due to its policy of not naming individuals who have reported being victims of sexual crimes.

She is also suing the University and its hospital for negligent hiring.

The plaintiff is asking for compensatory damages, a court order to have her case properly investigated and revision of GW Hospital's rape treatment policies.

"There is no legitimate reason why it was handled this way," said Bruce Spiva, her attorney. "She has really been hurt by this and is reluctant to speak out publicly."

David Garofalo, a spokesperson for the Medical Faculty Associates, said the allegations against Christopher Lang, a GW physician named in the lawsuit, are "without merit."

In court documents, the University states that the defendants "at all times complied with the applicable standard of care and were in no way negligent."

"When a young woman comes into a sexual assault center, she ought to be given a test for date-rape drugs," Spiva said. "She ought not be denied or questioned as if she'd done something wrong."

In the complaint, the alleged victim said that the defendants' misconduct and failure to act may have allowed her assailant to remain free.

The complaint stated that during an off-campus house party in December 2006 the plaintiff was given a date-rape drug that rendered her semiconscious. One of the hosts then took her to a room where he allegedly anally penetrated her at around 3 a.m.

Immediately after the alleged assault, she sought medical assistance at Howard University Hospital, accompanied by two witnesses, according to the complaint.

Court documents also add that she appeared intoxicated and was therefore denied a rape kit and sent home. It also states she was drifting in and out of consciousness and vomiting.

The plaintiff returned to Howard University Hospital the next morning and was again denied a rape kit - at which point the Metropolitan Police Department was notified, according to the complaint. They also said they felt a rape kit was unnecessary, according to court documents.

"A sexual assault kit is for police to recover evidence," said Sergeant Ronald Reid of the MPD Sex Assault Unit. "So if we don't have reason to believe a crime happened we wouldn't administer a rape kit."

The plaintiff then drove to GW Hospital, where Lang examined her according to court documents. The complaint states he also denied her a rape kit because both the police and Howard's hospital had already refused. Lang, who is listed as a defendant, did not return several calls from The Hatchet.

The complaint states "(the plaintiff) has been violated twice: first by an assailant who likely drugged and assaulted her, and then, by the defendants … which refused to take her seriously and which refused to provide her the reasonable care she was owed."

"This is not really a customary case," Spiva said. He compared it to the 2006 murder of New York Times reporter David E. Rosenbaum. He was also refused care at the hospital because he appeared intoxicated.

Gina Scaramella, a spokesperson for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, said a person cannot consent to a rape kit if they are intoxicated. She added the plaintiff should have been able to receive treatment the following morning. The only reason to deny a rape kit to a sober person is if several days had passed, she said.

"Only after (the designated time frame has passed) it is OK to deny a rape kit, or for someone with significant mental illness who comes in and asks for a kit repeatedly," Scaramella said. "But that's pretty rare."

Spiva said he hopes to prevent this type of treatment in the future. "The complaint speaks for itself in terms of the outrageousness of what happened," Spiva said. "We're partially doing this so that nobody else gets treated this way."

He added they hope to go to trial soon, and that the amount of potential damages will be determined by the jury.
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:32 PM   #3
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Which reason did they have not to believe a crime happened? And anyways, that is not about belief. This is about determining if she told the truth or not.
Intoxicated or not, that can't be the reason, or we mustn't complain about Muslims refusing to treat alcoholics.
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent Vega
Which reason did they have not to believe a crime happened?
That's what I'm wondering. Unfortunately with rape cases it is still sometimes about belief.

And of course she is an alleged victim, I prefer survivor and that's what the writer of the blog used. But "alleged" doesn't justify the way she was treated-more than once.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:08 PM   #5
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This would be horrible enough if she just went in by herself, but she was accompanied by two witnesses, and they still turned her away!
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Gina Scaramella, a spokesperson for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, said a person cannot consent to a rape kit if they are intoxicated. She added the plaintiff should have been able to receive treatment the following morning. The only reason to deny a rape kit to a sober person is if several days had passed, she said.
I'm guessing this is why the hospitals will say she was denied the rape kit the night of the attack, although it doesn't explain why it wasn't done the next day. And I have to wonder about this policy in the first place -- rapes do occur when people are intoxicated! Shouldn't evidence be collected as soon as possible? It seems very screwy to me.

I'd also like to know what, other than the "she appeared intoxicated" bit, made police and hospital workers feel that no crime happened. Since we haven't heard their side of the story, I have to say it is possible they have good reason to believe there was no rape, but I would really like to know what those reasons are. It seems to me she did everything a rape victim is supposed to do -- and she did it all at least three times! And she was still denied a rape kit. It's hard enough for women who are raped to go to the authorities in any case, but if they think they are going to get the brush off and not believed many just won't do it at all. So if the police and hospitals had a good reason to think she wasn't raped, I think it's very important that info get out. And if they don't have a good reason to believe no crime occurred, then they need to change their policies right now and publicise that as well.
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Old 10-19-2007, 01:10 AM   #7
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Wow, that is awful. I am really glad this girl is taking it to court though - I think a lot of times rape victims who don't get treated properly are so traumatized by the rape that they can't fight the poor handling of it, and so things don't change. It's great that she's strong enough to fight it and to draw attention to the problems with the way the system operates.

I think a lot of colleges really don't handle rape well. As a college student I've heard stories and I have theories about why, partly that it just looks bad so college admins want to keep the official numbers down and discourage prosecution (which leaves the rapist out there to do it to other girls on campus) and partly conflicted loyalties to both parties, who are both students, and partly shitty stuff like this where somehow it's thought that if someone is drunk it can't be rape.
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Old 10-19-2007, 06:33 AM   #8
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As a college administrator, I feel like I have to step in and say something.

We KNOW that there are loads more sexual assaults going on than gets reported. We NEVER discourage ANYBODY from coming forward. In fact, we do our best to create programs and services to extend to students so they can feel comfortable coming forward and pressing charges.

There is a sort of stigma associated with sexual assault, as well as guilt and shame. It is much more difficult to get men to come forward who have been sexually assaulted (yes it happens!) than women.

I know of students who have some awful things happen. Yet they refused to press charges. It is ultimately the student's decision whether they want to do that.

And please do not assume such things of college administrators. We spend YEARS studying STUDENT development, not trying to generate impressive numbers for the university. We care far more about the students than the school itself. We don't study the school, we study students and work to create an environment that best promotes individual growth.

We know it happens. We do the best we can to stand up for the students. We are advocates, not silencers.
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Old 10-19-2007, 07:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by unico
We do the best we can to stand up for the students. We are advocates, not silencers.
Maybe now, but it's a relatively recent development. Many of us -- especially those of us who went to college several years ago -- have different experiences.
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Old 10-19-2007, 08:58 AM   #10
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Well I don't see it fair that poor administration is being brought up when it doesn't appear as though the student went to any administrator. She went to hospitals.

Most campuses have a Women's Center and special hotlines. If she had gone there (because it is in places like those where administrators work) this would've probably been handled differently...but I don't know I can only speculate.

and you're right, indra, i can't speak for the past. however higher education itself has evolved over the years and so has the nature of student affairs. however Varitek was speaking in present terms, and i was addressing that.
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Old 10-19-2007, 10:09 AM   #11
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There's quite a bit more I would want to know about DC laws and procedures for administering rape kits than the article actually explains. If what the woman in Boston said about 'no consent while intoxicated' applies in DC too, well, then I guess they really couldn't do a rape kit at that time. I don't know why they'd have such a law (earlier lawsuits, perhaps?), but if they do, then obviously the hospitals have to comply. As far as what happened the the next morning--I'm pretty sure that in some states, the police need to be in on what's happened before a rape kit can be done, and *if* that's true in DC, then the police having indicated they saw no "reason to believe a crime happened" may again have stopped the hospitals from proceeding. Unfortunately, how and why the police might have arrived at that conclusion isn't touched on at all...like indra, that's what I'd really like to know.
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Old 10-19-2007, 10:16 AM   #12
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How can you determine that someone hasn't been raped without a rape kit? Barring any other information to explain that comment, I just really have to wonder about that one. The assumption I make is that the "intoxication" somehow led to that belief, but of course that assumption could be completely wrong. They conducted an entire thorough investigation at warped speed before making that determination?
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Old 10-19-2007, 12:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
How can you determine that someone hasn't been raped without a rape kit?
My understanding is that a rape kit just collects physical evidence. It doesn't ever prove or disprove anything, but can be used as the physical evidence component of an investigation. Rapists have been convicted without rape kits, and rapists have gone free even with rape kits that indicate sexual assault.

I'm with yolland and indra...not enough info here. My assumption would be that they cannot do a kit while the person is intoxicated b/c of previous lawsuits or threat of lawsuits. For example....I have a mental picture of some girls dragging their friend in from a party, she is passed out drunk, they *think* maybe someone assaulted her and ask for a rape kit, woman wakes up the next morning and is furious that people were examining her without her consent. These days with HIV, STDs, and other health problems, some people have to be really careful about what information is on file and what tests are done. At present, my insurance company is wanting me to have tests done that I refuse to consent to. I'm not saying either way is right or wrong, just that I can see why such a rule would be in place.
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Old 10-19-2007, 01:59 PM   #14
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I understand all that, but to up and just say that without even collecting any physical evidence-that's what I meant by that.
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Old 10-19-2007, 02:19 PM   #15
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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
I understand all that, but to up and just say that without even collecting any physical evidence-that's what I meant by that.
Oh, I agree, but if she really did appear intoxicated....I'd have to know more about that rule before vilifying those involved. There's a LOT of women who won't consent to a rape kit even when not intoxicated. Granted, I've never been in this situation, but the idea that hospital staff might have the right to poke, prod, and collect samples when I'm not fully conscious does make me a tad uncomfortable.
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