Questions raised in Queens University PD's handling of rape investigation

Campus assault investigation
Published: Jul. 29, 2015 at 3:15 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2015 at 9:29 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - An On Your Side investigation into how the campus police department at Queens University handled the report of a rape on campus has raised questions school administrators are unwilling to answer.

Our investigation began after a former student filed a lawsuit against the university claiming administrators violated federal laws that require schools make certain accommodations for students who report being a victim of sexual assault.

It is WBTV's policy to not identify people who have reported being sexually assaulted.

According to the lawsuit, the female student was raped while sleeping in a dorm room on campus on April 29, 2012. A police report of the incident shows she reported the rape to the Queens University Campus Police on May 1.

A fellow student, Gianmarino Gianfrate, was eventually charged in the case. Gianfrate played lacrosse for Queens. According to an affidavit submitted by campus police at the time Gianfrate was charged, the two students were friends.

In the affidavit, Officer Terri Oxford writes that Gianfrate confessed to sexually assaulting the female student while she was asleep in her boyfriend's bed.

"Mr. Gianfrate admitted he had sex with [the female student] while she was asleep in her boyfriend's [name withheld by WBTV] bed," Oxford wrote in the arrest affidavit. "When [the female student] awake and ask (sic) what he was doing Mr. Gianfrate acted like he didn't know what he was doing, but admitted he crawled in bed with her and felt her up and [digitally penetrated] her, then became arosed (sic) but didn't have sex with her."

There is nothing in the affidavit that indicates campus police recorded Gianfrate's confession in any way. The affidavit does say, however, that officers did not collect any physical evidence.

Despite Gianfrate's alleged confession two days after the incident, Oxford did not file charges until nearly four months after the incident, on August 21, 2012.

Longtime Charlotte criminal defense attorney Tim Emry, who was not involved with the handling of this case, said it is unusual for officers to wait so long to file charges.

"If you get a confession from a suspect two days after a violent incident occurs, why do you wait two plus months to pursue a warrant?" Emry asked. "That seems strange, unreasonable, suspicious.

A spokeswoman for the university declined multiple requests for an on camera interview. In a statement, the university declined to answer any questions in response to our investigation, citing the ongoing civil lawsuit filed by the former female student who reported the rape.

Gianfrate was charged with second degree rape by force and second degree forcible sex offense. The rape charge was dismissed and the forcible sex offense charge was reduced to misdemeanor assault on a female, court records show.

There is nothing in the court file that indicates why prosecutors offered Gianfrate a plea deal but attorney Tim Emry said it was likely because of a lack of evidence collected by Queens University Campus Police.

"The failure to gather physical evidence on the victim or take physical evidence from the defendant or memorialize his confession in either a written or recorded form are all things that hurt the ability to prosecute a case months later," Emry said. "[That is] standard. Standard operating procedure."

As a result of his guilty plea, Gianfrate was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation and ordered to pay $700 in fines and court costs.

The attorney who represented Gianfrate in his criminal case declined to comment in response to our investigation.


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