ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The University of Central Florida is removing a student from his originally scheduled graduation ceremony after another senior accused him of raping her – and 9 Investigates began asking questions about the case.
That young man was recorded by deputies and admitted what happened between him and the female student was wrong.
The young woman told her story only to investigative reporter Karla Ray, who learned through her reporting that the criminal case against the male student was closed without the man facing any charges.
Instead of making an arrest, Orange County deputies sent the case to prosecutors to decide whether to file charges.
The woman who accused the fellow student of raping her admitted that she took a break from communicating with prosecutors, in her words, to process what happened. But by the time she decided she wanted to move forward, the case was closed under the State Attorney’s Office code “victim uncooperative.”
She also initially declined the Title IX process, which reviews student code of conduct violations. But since she agreed to move forward in August, UCF has been working on her case.
Three years ago this week, inside the University of Central Florida Police Department, then 19-year-old Sabrina Travers told an Orange County deputy about her friend of nearly a decade allegedly raping her at a party off campus.
“I was inebriated above the legal limit, and after saying 'no' a few times, he thought it was appropriate to have nonconsensual sex with me in a blackout state,” Travers told Ray.
In records provided to 9 Investigates by Travers, we found the deputy who worked her case noted the then-sophomore was incapacitated and that the sex act was committed without her consent. It’s something the suspect admitted during a controlled phone call, which was also provided to 9 Investigates by the victim.
“I knew it was wrong,” the man is heard saying during the call. “I told you that it should have never happened. I apologize.”
Travers provided 9 Investigates access to a recording in which the suspect admitted to deputies that what he did was wrong.
This is a portion of that conversation with deputies:
Deputy: “You realize you screwed up.”
Accused student: “Yes, I understand completely.”
Deputy: “There's no doubt what you did was wrong.”
Accused student: “Yes.”
Deputy: “Regardless of whether you guys are friends or not.”
Accused student: “I understand.”
Deputy: “You're pushing the envelope of sexual battery.”
The sheriff’s office and State Attorney’s Office did not provide the audio recordings after repeated requests by Channel 9, but the audio matches the details included in a police report documenting the investigation.
Channel 9 is not naming the male student because he was never criminally charged.
After the interview with the male student, investigators sent the case on to the State Attorney's Office. Travers says she wanted to testify, but needed more time.
She admits she took a break from communicating with prosecutors.
After more than a year, prosecutors closed the case as “victim uncooperative."
A 2016 9 investigates analysis of 51 sex crimes involving UCF students found none resulted in a successful prosecution.
At the time, prosecutors told 9 Investigates that alcohol and victims wavering on whether to testify made those cases particularly difficult to take to trial.
“I will hopefully live an amazing life and make the best of all of this, but my life has changed because of all this and this has gone on and that's unfair,” Travers said.
Now Travers says her only hope is UCF's Title IX office and student conduct rules. Even though the incident occurred off campus, the university can still take action against anyone who violates the student code of conduct, which specifically prohibits non-consensual sex.
“I don't think he should be allowed to graduate,” Travers told Ray.
UCF officials told Ray about the graduation switch for the accused student early Thursday after a series of questions posed about the case and the school’s Title IX process. Both students are currently scheduled to graduate in a few weeks, but now he will take part in a ceremony separate from Travers’ graduation.
UCF officials maintain they have been working with Travers to accommodate her requests regarding graduation since the beginning.
They confirmed that this Title IX investigation wasn't launched until last August. That's almost three years after the incident itself.
In fact, UCF officials said they tried to reach out to Travers after receiving a third-party report about the incident in December 2014, but she did not want to participate in the process at that time.
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