100,000 Care2 Members Demand BYU Stop Treating Rape Survivors as Suspects

“I was raped,” begins Madi Barney’s Care2 petition, “and I waited four days to report because I was so terrified about my standing at BYU.”

Over the last week, Care2 members sprung into action to support the survivor now being investigated for violating Brigham Young University’s honor code. More than 100,000 signed her petition demanding the college include an immunity clause for sexual assault survivors, so they are no longer afraid to report.

And dozens mobilized for a demonstration in front of the Provo, Utah, school Wednesday that Care2 staffers Kelsey Bourgeois and Lacey Kohlmoos organized in just two days.

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The honor code prohibits actions such as premarital sex, alcohol consumption and being in the bedroom of someone of the opposite gender. After Barney submitted a police report of her assault last September, an officer friend of the alleged rapist sent the records to the honor code office, which launched an investigation into Barney.

She says the school’s Title IX coordinator told her she can no longer register for classes and doesn’t have enough proof of her assault to protect her from the investigation.

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“But this crime is going to trial, my rapist has been charged, and my rapist has confessed in a recorded phone call. I am shocked that the person whose job it is to help victims like me are doubting me and threatening me with retribution,” she continues. “Dealing with this hostile environment has been upsetting, re-victimizing, and discouraging, to say the least.”

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins rejects those allegations, telling Jezebel that “victims of sexual assault will never be referred to the Honor Code Office for being a victim of sexual assault.”

While Bourgeois doubts that BYU will make a change based on these protests alone, she hopes the voices of other survivors coming forward, alongside rising criticism from both Mormon and non-Mormon alumni and community members, will eventually push the university to reform their policies.

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Those speaking out from inside the church provide an important perspective because their objections are based in a faith.

“There’s this conception in BYU and in Morrmonism that like, ‘Oh, if you just don’t drink alcohol and don’t have sex before you’re married, then there’s no way you could ever be raped, which is, of course, empirically inaccurate,” says Bourgeois, a former BYU student who’s no longer Mormon, tells Care2. “What you’re doing is just silencing victims. You haven’t helped the problem at all.”

She continues, “If you’re not behind this, what you’re saying is ‘I’m cool with rape.’”

And if, like Madi Barney, you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kelsey Bourgeois

74 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven8 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Elaine W.
Past Member about a year ago

Embarrassment and shame stops some from reporting.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiranabout a year ago

why treat the victims like criminals? what is wrong with these idiots?

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Janet B.
Janet Babout a year ago

Thanks

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Danuta Watola
Danuta Wabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

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Janet B.
Janet Babout a year ago

Thanks

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Helga Ganguly
Helga Gangulyabout a year ago

So here we are,45 years later, and nothing has changed. I didn't go to BYU. I went to a University near my home.Actually,it was 1 1/2 blocks from the Physics building where my future husband would teach. It was 3 blocks from the Student Union. I asked for help understanding the course work from my T.A in a class and he volunteered to help me.He even picked me up after his his last class for the day, met my mother , made polite talk, and then proceeded to try to rape me.I thought we were going to his cubicle but we went to his apartment just off-campus. I learned nothing about the course work but my improvisation was top-notch. Report an attempted rape against a T.A.? It never occurred to me.I dropped the class the next day and never even went near that building again. Even my mother would have said he seemed like a "nice guy." They just don't advertise.

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Karen H.
Karen Habout a year ago

Here's an interesting twist. One rape victim went to the BYU Title IX office to report her assault. She later learned that an Honor Code investigation had been opened the same day she made her report, but for the next TWO WEEKS, no one from BYU spoke to her or contacted her in any way. She could have had counseling and support during that time, but BYU did absolutely nothing. When BYU finally decided that a sexual assault had, indeed, taken place, she was offered support. BYU's Honor Code is like the Sword of Damocles hanging over a rape victim's head. When Barney reported her rape to police, she sobbed that she couldn't report it to BYU because the school "was going to kick me out." Not offer support, but kick her out. So much for BYU's claim of following the gospel of Jesus Christ. Didn't Jesus tell the woman caught in adultery "go and sin no more"? No forgiveness at BYU, it seems. BYU has found quite a unique way to encourage women to leave its hallowed halls.

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Janet B.
Janet Babout a year ago

Thanks

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