Vanderbilt officials respond after reports of four rapes - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Vanderbilt officials respond after reports of four rapes this year

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Accusations of a so-called rape culture at Vanderbilt University are unfolding online after more disturbing allegations.

Four rapes have been reported to Vanderbilt officials this year, and that comes after an alleged rape last June of an unconscious woman in a campus dormitory.

Metro police say they are not investigating the latest cases because the victims did not want to prosecute.

But there has been online backlash against a student who reported she was sexually assaulted at a Vanderbilt fraternity house on Valentine's Day.

The alleged victim was publicly named on an online thread called "Girl that Ratted," and many of the comments there are too explicit to show.

The gossip thread has since been removed but not before Andre Rouillard, the editor-in-chief of Vanderbilt's student newspaper, The Hustler, captured its contents and wrote about it for the online publication InsideVandy.

Rouillard said the comment thread brings out the worst in what he calls the "rape culture" at Vanderbilt.

It's important to note he only published the article after the thread was taken down and the victim's name was redacted.

"I think having the thread online is valuable just so people can see how vicious and how brutally these people attacked this girl," Rouillard said. "What struck me is the victim seemed to be a target, so not only was she named on the first page, there were posters on the second page saying, 'Can we please get a confirmation on the name? Is this really the girl who ratted on this fraternity?'"

The alleged sexual assault reportedly happened on Valentine's Day at the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house.

Rouillard says the women he knows feel safe on campus but is concerned that the postings he's seen online could discourage women from reporting future assaults.

"I think had the victim's name been out there and confirmed, she would have a social nightmare going forward here at Vanderbilt," Rouillard said.

Channel 4 News contacted officials with both Vanderbilt University and the fraternity about these allegations.

In a statement, Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Beth Fortune said:

"Even one act of sexual violence on our campus is one too many. We strongly encourage our students to report such incidents, and we take appropriate measures to support victims of sexual violence and to investigate reported incidents. The victim's wishes play an important role in the kind of investigation we are able to conduct. Except when the victim provides information on a confidential basis, VUPD publicly reports all incidents of which we become aware. We make support services available to every victim of sexual violence, whether or not the victim chooses to file a complaint. And the process we follow in sexual misconduct cases is designed to be fair to all students involved.

"The blog posts are shocking and repulsive. No one can know who is responsible for anonymous posts. But we know the posts do not reflect the values that are widely shared across our campus - that sexual violence is abhorrent, that perpetrators should be held accountable through a fair process and that victims are entitled to our full support. We applaud 'InsideVandy' for telling it like it is. Every time our students step forward and take a stand against cruelty, disrespect and insensitivity, it shines a light on the community we truly are and the values we share."

And a representative for Alpha Epsilon Pi's national chapter, Jonathan Pierce, said in a statement:

"AEPi International is conducting its own investigation and will have no further comment until that investigation is complete and all University and other legal inquiries are complete."

That national chapter says there have been no disciplinary actions taken against the Vanderbilt chapter of the fraternity at this time.

Click to read the InsideVandy report: http://www.insidevandy.com/opinion/article_ecb2248e-c52b-11e3-b7d6-0017a43b2370.html?mode=story (WARNING: Content contains explicit language.)

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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