Saskatoon

Woman says she was raped in university dorm and frequently sees her alleged attacker on campus

Jessica says she lives with constant angst since she was allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted on the University of Saskatchewan campus.

Woman alleges she was drugged and sexually assaulted on University of Saskatchewan campus

Jessica filed several complaints to different authorities alleging a sexual assault on the University of Saskatchewan campus. (Omayra Issa/CBC)

Jessica sees him almost every day in the library, the dining hall, and the hallways of the dorm. She says she shouldn't have to face those constant reminders of the man she says raped her.

I was sexually assaulted in the residence I live in actually and it was on campus.- Jessica

Jessica says she lives with constant angst since she was allegedly drugged and sexually assaulted on Sept. 29.

"I was sexually assaulted in the residence I live in actually and it was on campus," she said, adding she believes her drink was laced with an illicit substance. CBC has agreed to not identify her, because of the nature of the allegations.

The incident allegedly happened after a football game when she went to a party in a campus dorm. She said when she woke up, she knew she had been sexually assaulted.

A friend told CBC News that when he saw Jessica that night, she looked "exhausted, completely out of it," and was unrecognizable.

Seeking justice

Jessica reported the incident to campus police, known as Protective Services. She subsequently spoke to Saskatoon Police Services. Police said they won't comment on the case.

The university won't confirm if it has begun an investigation because it says it can't comment on individual cases.

The university sent a campus-wide email alert at 9:50 a.m. on Oct. 3, warning roughly 29,000 students and staff a sexual assault had been reported in one of its dorms.

So far, Jessica says the university has allowed her to hand in her assignments late, has given her countless cups of tea, and given her counselling.

Hard to heal

But she said it has been difficult to heal while living in proximity to her alleged attacker.

"I have to see this person pretty much every week, if not every day. And I can see this person having a normal life," she explained.

"This person is living on campus, in residence, in a dorm in a building," she said.

I can't fall asleep. I have nightmares. I have lost my appetite.- Jessica 

Jessica said the incident has affected her performance in school.

"I can't fall asleep. I have nightmares. I have lost my appetite," she said.  

The young woman said she is exhausted, despite receiving psychological help and advice from university officials.

Jessica said she's frustrated her alleged perpetrator hasn't been charged yet, and still lives on campus. She thinks she is the one being punished. 

She said she feels re-victimized throughout the process, as she's had to recount her story already 10 times to various authorities.

Patti McDougall, vice-provost of teaching and learning, says the University of Saskatchewan has to conduct thorough investigations on non-academic formal complaints. (Omayra Issa/CBC)

Internal investigation

Jessica has also filed a non-academic formal complaint at the University of Saskatchewan against her alleged perpetrator. She wants him expelled.

But the university says it could be weeks, even months, before officials make a ruling.

Patti McDougall, vice-provost of teaching and learning at the University of Saskatchewan, recognizes the wait can be difficult, but said officials have to conduct a thorough investigation before making any decision.

"We are obliged to follow fair and due process because if we did otherwise, if we made decisions without that fair and due process, then we would be required by the legal system to reverse those decisions. We would not want to see that happen," said McDougall.

It will eventually be up to a panel of four people to decide the alleged attacker's fate.

"I have to put my life back in their hands," said Jessica, adding that the process is painful. .

McDougall says the university has zero tolerance for sexual assault.

Campus officials have instructed her alleged perpetrator not to contact Jessica in person, through social media, or through a third party after his repeated attempts to engage with her on Instagram.

'A bandage'

The International Women's Movement at the University of Saskatchewan believes the university should take immediate action in order to prevent possible assaults.

A lot of the procedures set in place, maybe just at this university, are very much like a... bandage.- Autumn Smith,  International Women's Movement at the University of Saskatchewan

"If the university is not willing to expel him, then they're kind of acknowledging, they're kind of OK'ing this, and I know the University of Saskatchewan is working so hard on preventing sexual assault on campus, but they're not doing much to deal with what happens after it already happens," said Autumn Smith, co-vice-president of the student group.

"A lot of the procedures set in place, maybe just at this university, are very much like a...bandage," said Smith.

Smith thinks it is unfair that the university offered to move Jessica to another building, further from the one where the alleged rapist lives.

"Maybe they should have said well, we should move him. That's almost a consequence on her end where she did nothing wrong and maybe he should be taken out of his situation and live with those consequences of being away from his friends," said Smith.

Meanwhile, Jessica is still waiting.

"We're talking about an environment that's not safe for women to go out," she said.

About the Author

Omayra Issa

Journalist

Omayra Issa is a Saskatchewan journalist who works for Radio-Canada. To contact Omayra, email omayra.issa@radio-canada.ca. Follow Omayra on Twitter @OmayraIssa.