UNC football player turns himself in on sexual battery charge

Posted at 11:37 AM, Sep 14, 2016

University of North Carolina linebacker Allen Artis turned himself in Wednesday on misdemeanor charges of sexual battery and assault on a female, Orange County magistrate Gerald Koelling said.

This comes a day after a UNC student, Delaney Robinson, held a news conference accusing the player of raping her in February and complaining about the university’s handling of the case.

Robinson, a sophomore at the university, told reporters in Raleigh she was assaulted on February 14, and that she has tried for months to have formal charges filed.

Artis’ arrest warrant states he is accused of pulling Robinson’s bra strap, “causing an indentation on her shoulder/back,” and lying on top of her, pinning her down with his weight as he raped her.

Artis has not responded to the allegations. Attorney Sam Coleman’s office told CNN that it has no comment on the matter. Artis was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond and is scheduled to be in court Thursday morning.

In North Carolina, anyone can go before a magistrate and swear to criminal acts that happened against them and the magistrate determines if there is enough evidence to go forward. Warrants issued this way can only be at the misdemeanor level; felonies must be brought by the DA’s office, based on beyond a reasonable doubt standard.

The Orange County District Attorney’s office told CNN that the UNC Chapel Hill police investigation has not been completed and there has been no decision on whether to bring felony charges.

“The investigation is still ongoing,” District Attorney Jim Woodall said. “These are very serious charges and before we go forward we would like to have the investigation completed or close to being completed.”

He said for stronger charges to be brought against a suspect, prosecutors look for proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Alleged assault happened in February

Typically, CNN does not name alleged victims of sexual assault. But in this case, Robinson has come out publicly.

CNN was unable to reach Artis or determine whether he has an attorney. UNC athletes facing misdemeanor charges are suspended from their teams. They can be reinstated if approved by the school’s athletic director, the team’s coach and other university officials.

Robinson said she was 18 years old at the time of the alleged assault at the Ram Village apartments on UNC’s campus. She is now 19.

“Yes, I was drinking that night on Valentine’s Day,” Robinson said, with her father and lawyer by her side. “I’m underage, and I take responsibility for that. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to violate me. I did not deserve to be raped. My life has changed forever, while the person who assaulted me remains as a student and a football player on this campus.”

Robinson said following the incident she went to the hospital and gave an account of what she could remember to the sexual assault nurse. She was then questioned by the university’s department of public safety investigators, who she said asked “demeaning and accusatory questions.”

“Did I lead him on? Have I hooked up with him before? Do I often have one-night stands? Did I even say no? What is my sexual history? How many men have I slept with? I was treated like a suspect,” she said.

An incident report from the UNC Department of Public Safety was taken at just before 5:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, according to the document obtained by CNN.

Robinson said her “humiliation turned to rage when I (later) listened to the recorded interviews of my rapist by DPS investigators.”

“Rather than accusing him of anything, the investigators spoke to him with a tone of camaraderie. They provided reassurances to him when he became upset. They even laughed with him when he told them how many girls’ phone numbers he had managed to get on the same night that he raped me. They told him, ‘don’t sweat it, just keep on living your life and keep on playing football,’ ” Robinson said.

Robinson’s lawyer, Denise W. Branch, said her client had cooperated fully with the investigation by the department of public safety and the university’s Title lX office. The lawyer provided a photo purportedly taken on the night of the alleged attack showing what Branch said was bruising on Robinson’s neck.

Title IX is the law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at any educational institution that receives federal funding. The US Department of Education interprets Title IX to say that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, and therefore schools could be held responsible if they don’t investigate and adjudicate cases.

“Delaney made the courageous decision to come forward,” Branch said in a statement earlier. “But that courage was met with inaction and indifference. Delaney feels betrayed by the University she chose.”

UNC said it was aware of the allegations but could not address them because of federal privacy law.

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is deeply committed to the safety and well-being of our students and takes all allegations about sexual violence or sexual misconduct extremely seriously,” it said.

In 2014, UNC implemented a revised policy on discrimination and harassment that included sections on sexual assault. The move came after five women filed a complaint with the Education Department, accusing the university of creating a hostile environment for students who reported sexual assault allegations, according to CNN affiliate WRAL.

“That policy establishes a rigorous process conducted by well-trained investigators,” UNC’s statement said. “The university provides compassionate care to all students who need support.”

Robinson and her attorney said that is not true in this case.

UNC football coach Larry Fedora said he could not comment on the allegations.

“We take these matters very seriously and are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities,” he said.