Delaware student says she was raped on campus and prosecutors won't take her case

A University of Delaware student is protesting the lack of attention she said her sexual assault has received from the state.          …

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UD student Alyvia Pauzer was sexual assaulted on campus but Dept. of Justice is not taking on her case. She wants to get some justice by having her voice heard in a silent protest being held on the UD campus Green on Wednesday. Jennifer Corbett, Wilmington

WILMINGTON, Del. – University of Delaware sophomore Alyvia Pauzer is holding a silent protest on Wednesday to draw awareness to the lack of attention she said her sexual assault has received from the state. 

The 19-year-old woman said she was raped in her dorm room on Jan. 26. She had a sexual assault exam at the hospital, reported the assault to university police that day and provided several apologetic text messages from the man who allegedly assaulted her, including one stating he’d been “too aggressive.” 

On Monday, Pauzer said the Delaware Department of Justice notified her that it would not be pursuing the case because it was too difficult to win in court. USA TODAY and the News Journal normally do not identify sexual assault victims, but Pauzer consented to having her name used for this article.

Matthew Marshall, a state Department of Justice spokesman, said it would be inappropriate for them to comment on the case. Marshall did say that the Justice Department has scheduled a meeting with Pauzer next week. He declined to provide the status of her case.

Pauzer confirmed to the News Journal that the Justice Department agreed on Tuesday to meet with her and her father about why they were not pursuing her case. 

“They’re not taking it,” Pauzer said. “I just want to reject their rejection and just figure out how I can fight against this.”

Supporters of Pauzer showed up at a silent protest she organized Wednesday to express what they say are common feelings victims of sexual assault endure after reporting their assaults.

Nearly 50 people showed up at the protest held on UD’s Green. Some held signs pointing out rape statistics or asking people not to be bystanders.

Prosecutors’ unwillingness to take on rape cases happens often, sexual assault experts say. That’s because prosecutors, in any criminal case, have to determine if taking up a case is worth the resources. They also consider if the case can be won.

This is why there needs to be an investment in community education on sexual assaults, said Kristen Houser, chief spokeswoman for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

“Mostly because much of America has jury pools that don’t understand what sexual assault looks like most of the time,” Houser said.

Violent sexual assaults, particularly those involving injury, tend to move forward through the justice system. It becomes more difficult to get people to understand rapes that involve peers, that don’t have gratuitous violence or where alcohol and drugs are used by one or both parties.

“It’s a much taller order to help people understand how those things don’t point to a misunderstanding or a mistake, but that they point to a strategy much of the time,” she said. 

When there is drug or alcohol use, there is an increase in victim vulnerability, she said.

“And that’s true whether or not somebody is voluntarily becoming intoxicated or whether or not somebody is giving them drugs without their knowledge,” she said. 

Alcohol and drugs also play a role for people committing these acts by lowering their inhibitions, she said.  

“We need to do better to educate the public about understanding,” Houser said. “Those things aren’t mistakes. Those things are strategy.” 

‘I feel like I crossed some boundaries’

Pauzer, of Pennsylvania, said the incident occurred while she was at the university for sexual offense support training. After her training, she and some friends attended a fraternity party, where alcohol was being served. 

She became intoxicated at the party.

“I’m kind of embarrassed at the level of how drunk I was,” she said. 

Pauzer said she didn’t remember much on her way to the dorm, other than being with her girlfriends, and a man she knew. She also remembers running to her dorm because of how cold it was in the early hours of Jan. 26. 

“And then I remember being in my room and being whipped around and my body told me something is wrong right now,” she said. “I froze and I couldn’t move.”

Then she blacked out. 

When Pauzer woke up, the man was in her bed naked. 

She got up, grabbed her phone and stumbled into the bathroom.

“I have no idea how I got there,” she said. “I ended up having a panic attack in the bathroom and called my best friend who lives in Colorado and freaking out to her.”

She then called two friends, who went to her room and got the man out of her bedroom. 

“I was not OK,” she said. “I froze. I could feel tears on my face and my body woke me up in a way that something bad is happening.”

The man sent her several text messages later that day. 

“Yo. I want to apologize for everything,” the text said. “I felt like I was too aggressive when we were with each other, and that was not cool.”

Pauzer did not respond until a later text where he told her that they “should talk about what happened last night.”

She responded with, “What.”

“Well, more like I should talk,” he responded. 

“I’ve been thinking about it all day and I feel like I crossed some boundaries last night. I’m sorry that I crossed them. Wasn’t fair to you for me to come on to you, and I should have asked for consent beforehand.”

The text messages went on without her responding. 

Pauzer said she presented the texts to police. 

Follow Esteban Parra on Twitter: @eparra3.

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