Title 9 is a federal statute that protects victims from sexual abuse, harassment, or other sex-related crimes.
But it’s also one of the only measures that actually labels a suspect as ‘guilty’ right off that bat, forcing them to prove their innocence or otherwise face the consequences.
Usually this is a good thing, as these crimes are often the most heinous and traumatic. But in the case of one student with a prominent future ahead of him… it almost spelled disaster.
We spoke with Conflict International’s Stephen Komorek about the details behind the recent case. Komorek runs all U.S. operations for Conflict International, including a major investigation that almost changed the life of a university student forever.
Here’s some backstory on the situation, from what we can divulge.
Recently, an international student who attends an Ivy League university went to campus administrators and local police about a rape accusation. The student who reported it alleged that she was raped by another student six months prior, and wanted to now file charges.
Since these allegations were well within the state’s statute of limitations, authorities immediately began investigating her claims.
The student alleged that during one night after a party, while visiting the male student’s room, he forced himself on her and raped her.
Komorek and his team were approached by the male student’s family in hopes that they could expose the accusations for what they were: a lie.
“Title 9 labels you guilty until you can prove your innocence because authorities need to act to protect the safety of other students,” Komorek said. “In this case, the accused student was already starting way behind the curve.”
Komorek said that by working alongside local police in their investigation, the team at Conflict International was able to discover the true nature of the students’ relationship.
Turns out the alleged rape never occurred.
According to the team’s findings, the pair actually did hook up on one occasion, but investigators struggled to find if it was consensual. However, after uncovering old text messages exchanged between the two, the nature of their relationship came to light.
Komorek said that the male and female students stayed in regular contact over the six months from when they hooked up until the accusations arose. They reportedly discussed things like class, parties, and normal happenings of college life.
Following hundreds of newly recovered texts, which the alleged victim failed to fully report to police and even attempted to doctor, law enforcement officials and investigators from Conflict International began to realize that these were not the kinds of conversations had by someone who has undergone a sexual assault.
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“They had normal interactions that any casual friends would,” Komorek said. “It didn’t meet the normal behavior of someone who has had that kind of traumatic event. As more evidence continued to pile in, the truth of the matter was finally revealed. The allegations never took place.”
Komorek said that it came to light that the accuser’s student visa was expiring, but she wanted to stay in the United States longer. Unable to successfully extend that visa, she apparently found a workaround. She reportedly took the story from the night after the party and twisted it in order to manipulate her situation.
According to federal law, a visa can be extended if an active criminal investigation is underway. Enter: the fake rape accusation.
“It’s always best to get ahead of these issues immediately. These consequences can be staggering. The claim could have easily taken away a child from his parents, a future doctor form the world, or worse… just because of a false accusation.”
Komorek said that now the Department of Homeland Security is involved in further investigation, as it seems the motive behind the false claim was actually an attempt to try and extend the ‘victim’s’ student visa.
Now, the student who falsely accused the male is facing her own set of charges, including filing a false police report and is under investigation by federal immigration officials for visa fraud.
“If only the public knew how often these types of cases happened, there might be a bigger push for regulations that would protect the innocent while also weeding out those using these kinds of allegations for their own benefit,” Komorek said.
This case closely mimics a similar scenario from Duke University in 2006, where a group of athletes were falsely accused of rape by a stripper. It wasn’t until the following year that prosecutors dropped all of the charges, but not before it tarnished the boys’ reputation.
Komorek says it’s best to get out in front of these investigations as quickly as possible before they have a chance to run wild.
“The first 72 hours are so important, Komorek said. “What could have dragged on for months or even years was solved quickly, saving taxpayer money and ensuring that valuable manpower and resources from law enforcement wasn’t wasted on false claims.”
For more information on Conflict International and the services their team provides, visit their website here.