University officials condemn social media reaction to alleged rape

Athens Police confirmed Monday that, as part of an ongoing investigation, they have seen screenshots of an Instagram video that led a woman to file a rape complaint Sunday.

The police department was not able to release further information as of press time, partially because most of the city government was closed Monday in observation of Columbus Day, leaving officials including Chief Tom Pyle and Capt. Ralph Harvey unavailable.

As of Monday evening, officials from APD had not contacted Ohio University’s Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility, a branch of OU’s Division of Student Affairs, said Martha Compton, the office’s director.

Compton couldn’t confirm nor deny whether OU students were involved in the incident. University policy states that a student who engages in sexual intercourse, including oral sex or any form of penetration, with an unwilling participant is subject to expulsion.

The university’s definition of consent states that consent cannot be obtained from someone who is “asleep or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated, whether due to alcohol, drugs or some other condition.”

The woman filed the complaint after a video, allegedly showing a man performing oral sex on her on a sidewalk in Uptown Athens, circulated on Instagram. Popular local Twitter accounts caused a frenzy Sunday evening when screenshots of the video were posted. Screenshots seem to indicate the event taking place in front of Chase Bank, 2 S. Court Street.

What was particularly troubling was the reaction on social media, Compton said. “There have been some real examples of some victim-blaming behavior.”

OU Police Chief Andrew Powers said social media might end up holding someone accountable for a crime he would’ve gotten away with.

“What is more disturbing are the social implications of what it means for someone to have been standing there watching this thing happen, videotaping it with their phone instead of getting involved and trying to help the victim,” Powers said.

Those with information on this case are advised to call Crime Solvers Anonymous at 740-594-3331 or the Athens Police Department at 740-592-3313.


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