Campus police refused to release rape suspect's name without permission, released victim's name
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Administrators at Queens University refused to release a police report with information about a student who was accused of raping another student in her sleep without first getting his permission.
On Your Side Investigates requested the police report as part of an investigation into how the university handled the case of a reported rape on campus that occurred in late April 2012.
Our investigation began after a former student filed a lawsuit against the university claiming administrators violated several federal laws that require schools accommodate victims of sexual assaults and properly report the crimes.
WBTV first reported on the lawsuit on Friday, July 10. The following Monday, a spokeswoman for the university provided basic details of when the sexual assault was reported to campus police but did not include the name of the student who was eventually charged in the attack.
"No one was arrested by the Queens University of Charlotte police department," wrote Rebecca Anderson, Vice President for Marketing, Strategy and Communications at Queens University. "Therefore we don't have any arrest record data. It's our understanding that criminal charges were filed in Mecklenburg County several months later, but we weren't involved."
State law requires campus police departments--including those operated by private institutions--to make public certain details of an incident or arrest. Among the information required to be made public is the name of a suspect arrested, charged or indicted as the result of an investigation.
Days later, on Wednesday, July 15, the university provided a redacted copy of the police report that included the name of the student who reported the rape but did not include the suspect's information.
After attorneys for WBTV challenged Queens University's withholding of the suspect's name, an attorney for the university said school administrators were waiting for permission from the accused student to release his name.
"A Dean at the University has contacted the accused and opened a conversation with him about giving consent to the release of the material you seek," Mac McCarley, an attorney for Queens University, wrote.
Tim Emry, a long-time criminal defense attorney in Charlotte who is not connected with the Queens University case, said the university's move of consulting the suspect before releasing his information as required by law was unusual.
"In my years of practicing, I've never heard of that," Emry said. "I've never once been called by a detective who said 'we'd like to release your clients name but we want his permission'."
On Your Side Investigates was able to confirm the name of the suspect in the case through other court documents.
Court records show Gianmarino Gianfrate was charged with second degree sex offense by force and second degree rape by force. A warrant for Gianfrate's arrest showed the charges had been taken out by an officer with Queens University's campus police department.
When a reporter asked Anderson about the discrepancy between her previous claim that the university had not been involved in filing charges in the case and the warrant for Gianfrate's arrest, which listed the complainant as Queens University PD officer Terri Oxford, she told WBTV that the victim had taken out the charges herself.
"Officer Oxford took the initial complaint on campus from the victim on May 1. However, she did not file the charges in Mecklenburg County; the family did that. Neither Queens nor Officer Oxford were present at either stage—the issuance of the arrest warrant or at the first appearance in court," Anderson explained. "It is our belief and assumption that the family used the campus police report during that proceeding and that the arrest warrant used Officer Oxford's name as the witness (and then later as complainant) because she was named in the original report."
But an affidavit filled out and signed by Oxford at the time the charges were filed proved otherwise.
In Mecklenburg County, an arrest affidavit filled out by a law enforcement officer attesting to the facts of a case is required in order for a magistrate to issue felony charges against someone.
The arrest affidavit filed at the time of Gianfrate's charges was filled out and signed by Officer Terri Oxford with Queens University's police department.
Neither Anderson nor anyone else from the university has provided an explanation for the discrepancy between their assertion the university was not involved in filing charges against Gianfrate and the court documents signed by a university police officer that proved otherwise.
Ultimately, Queens University released a copy of the police report that included Gianfrate's name after it received a copy of the arrest affidavit signed by Oxford.
Gianfrate's two felony sex offense charges were reduced to one misdemeanor charge of assault on a female. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay $700 in fines and court costs and two years of unsupervised probation.
Court documents obtained by On Your Side Investigates suggest prosecutors may have been forced to reach a plea deal in the case because of the lack of evidence collected by Queens University's police department in this case.
Watch WBTV Wednesday night New at 5 for details on where one legal expert says the investigation conducted by the university's campus police department fell short.
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