CLARKSBURG – A former Glenville State College student is alleging campus police failed to properly investigate her claim she was raped two years ago following an impromptu party in her dormitory.
The College, and Daniel Bell, chief of its public safety department, are named as co-defendants in a civil rights suit filed by Amanda Smith. In her complaint filed Sept. 17 in U.S. District Court, Smith, 21, of Mineral Wells, says campus police not only failed to conduct the most routine of investigation into her allegation she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student in 2010, but also lost important evidence.
Additionally, Smith alleges hers is not the first time either campus police or GSC officials have showed deliberate indifference toward alleged rape victims.
A not-so-quiet evening
According to her suit, Smith, then a sophomore, after returning to her room in Goodwin Hall from her on-campus job on Sept. 18, 2010, received a text message from Michael McHenry, a fellow student, asking if she wanted to go out for ice cream. About that same time, Jayde Layne, another student, knocked on Smith’s door requesting help in the dorm’s laundry room.
However, Layne agreed to join Smith and McHenry for ice cream. They were accompanied by Jordan “Opie” Watkins, Erietta Patrianakos, and several “unidentified students.”
After returning to Goodwin Hall between 5:30 and 6 p.m., Smith alleges Layne, and another student, Kala Fisher, asked if she would get McHenry to buy them alcohol. When Smith declined, Fisher and Layne then asked Patrianakos who agreed.
According to the suit, Patrianakos then took the alcohol to Watkins’ room, and left to be with her boyfriend. Shortly thereafter, Smith joined other students including Layne in Watkins’ room.
About 8:30 p.m., Smith says she left to help her roommate carry groceries to their room on the second floor. Upon returning to Watkins’ room, Smith found additional students present including “unknown black males mixing drinks.”
Later around 9 p.m. Smith says Layne, who’d previously been mixing drinks in the bathroom, offered her a plastic cup. After consuming the unspecified contents of half of it, Layne brought her a different cup.
Sometime between then and 10 p.m., the suit maintains Smith appeared she was having a “mild seizure” after becoming nauseous “with alternating bouts of vomiting and urinating, crying and screaming.” Sometime thereafter she became unconscious.
According to the suit, someone removed Smith’s clothes leaving her in only her bra and panties. Upon discovering her disrobed and unconscious, Layne, Patrianakos and Fisher put Smith in the shower.
Sometime after 10 p.m., Andrew Lewis, Goodwin Hall’s resident director, heard Smith screaming, and went to Watkins’ room to investigate. After arriving, he was joined by Travis Nesbitt, a student in an adjoining room, in rending first aid to Smith.
At 10:09 p.m., Lewis called campus police requesting medical assistance for Smith. Twelve minutes later, Officer William Boone called for an ambulance.
An ambulance arrived at an unspecified time to take Smith to Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston. According to the suit, Nesbitt accompanied Smith, and observed her “holding her hands between her legs, stating “‘it hurts.’”
Upon arrival at SJMH, Smith was placed in the intensive care unit. An initial examination of Smith discovered “a bodily fluid ‘pouring out’ of [her] vagina that ‘was not supposed to be there together with bruising on [her] thigh and arm.”
A toxicology report revealed Smith had a blood alcohol content of .236, and the presence of benzodiazepine in her system. In her suit, Smith avers she was not taking any medication containing benzodiazepine, and only consumed half of the drink Layne gave her.
Because she did not regain full consciousness until sometime the next morning, a sexual assault examination was performed in Smith later that afternoon. The examination revealed, among other things, bruising on Smith’s left shin, knee, upper arm and hip.
Also, the examination discovered Smith had “a large amount of mucus/discharge from her vagina that was ‘white/yellow’ in color in spite of the negative findings of vaginitas and the appearance of bacteria in her vagina opening.” Furthermore, a nurse told Smith’s mother “‘This should not be there,’” when showing her a swab of the substance removed from Smith’s vagina.
The suit accuses GSC officials, specifically Bell, of “failing to follow protocol routine in sexual assault cases.” This includes the “lack of safeguarding and storing of evidence [and] properly securing a crime scene.”
According to the suit, campus police failed to collect both the bed sheets in Watkins’ room and the clothes he used to dress Smith after she threw-up on herself before they were laundered. Also, the cups used to mix and serve the drinks were destroyed before they could be collected.
Additionally, the suit alleges an investigatory notebook kept by Bell was “accidently placed in a washing machine and destroyed.” Furthermore, Bell “showed minimal training” when he accused Smith of “placing the bruises found on her body herself.”
According to the suit, the inability of campus police to timely collect evidence was a result of no certified law enforcement officer being on duty at the time Lewis called them for help. The investigation did not begin until Glenville Police Sgt. Casey Jones arrived at a time not specified.
Any investigation into who might have raped Smith was hindered by Layne, Watkins, Patrianakos and Fisher refusing to cooperate with police. According to the suit, they “have refused to identify students in the room and have changed their statements.”
Following her alleged attack, Smith says she attempted to complete her classes that semester. However, due to harassment by Layne, Fisher, Watkins, Patrianakos and other students, who are named as co-defendants in the suit, Smith says she found not only attending classes, but also living in Goodwin Hall difficult.
Assurances college administrators made to “implement reasonable accommodations” for her to finish her classes, Smith said, where not kept. After receiving a letter dated Oct. 7, 2010 from the College’s provost that she would most likely receive failing grades in her classes, Smith decided to withdraw.
According to her suit, college officials continued to display insensitivity toward her after she withdrew. Bell, Lewis and Jerry Burkhammer II, the dean of student affairs, were all no-shows for a meeting with Smith and her parents when she returned to campus to retrieve some personal belongings from her dorm room.
In the two years since she was attacked, Smith says there have been other sexual assaults take place on campus. Though she does not provide specifics, Smith says due to “a lack of investigatory technique and result” similar to what happened in her case, the other women “are considering filing separate claims against [GSC].”
As a result of her attack, the failure of campus police to properly investigate it and the harassment she received afterwards, Smith alleges she’s suffered “severe and permanent psychological damage, emotional distress and decreased educational opportunities.” Along with ones for civil rights violations, she makes claims for failure to train, retaliation, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Smith seeks unspecified damages, interest, court costs and attorneys fees. She is representing herself.
The case is assigned to Judge Irene M. Keeley.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number 12-cv-147