A Mobile County grand jury has declined to bring any criminal charges against an Alabama School of Math and Science student who was accused of rape by a former classmate last month.
The confirmation by Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich brings at least some resolution to a controversy that started in late January after a former ASMS student shared a letter with an alumni group detailing an alleged off-campus rape she claimed occurred on Nov. 29, 2018. In the letter, which did not name the student she accused, the incident was described as an “act of violence.” The student says she reported the incident to ASMS the following day.
While the names of both the accused and the alleged victim have been disseminated publicly on social media, Lagniappe is choosing not to identify either of the parties involved.
Aside from the incident, the former student’s letter also raised concerns about how the school allegedly handled the situation, and accused ASMS administrators of not immediately contacting the student’s parents or the Mobile Police Department when the alleged rape was first reported to school personnel.
After the letter began circulating among current and former students, the ASMS Board of Directors responded publicly and denied several of those claims. The board said ASMS launched a “thorough, independent investigation in the circumstances, claims, and counterclaims” but would not be conducting its investigation “on social media platforms.”
“Rape is a crime, punishable by our legal system, and is a serious matter,” the board’s Jan. 21 letter to parents reads. “We are confident that our administrators and faculty fully understand that when a rape allegation has been made, that every step must be taken to ensure that the allegations are treated with the highest degree of professionalism.”
While the Mobile Police Department was initially reluctant to release any information about its investigation into this case, a department spokesperson eventually confirmed the incident wasn’t reported to police until Dec. 3, 2018 — three days after the alleged victim claimed she first told ASMS administrators about her assault.
In her letter, the student also claimed it was her parents — not the school — who contacted the police on Dec. 3. So far, police have not said who reported the incident, though it would be uncommon for them to do so in this type of case.
According to MPD, all of the findings from its investigation of the incident were turned over to Rich’s office in the fall — information that would have presumably been presented to the grand jury that considered the case last week. Rich also said her office is not considering any type of charges against the alleged victim in this case.
Neither the ASMS board nor the alleged victim has publicly addressed the matter outside of the respective letters they released in January, but the allegation has stirred a lot of discussion amongst ASMS alumni and students since. It also sparked a brief silent protest on campus after classes dismissed Jan. 24.
Updated at 11:26 p.m., Feb. 18, to include input from Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich and to correct typographical errors.
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