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Brigham Young University So Mad At Rape Victim For Failing To Uphold Honor Code

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There are a lot of hard things about being a Mormon. Probably having doors constantly slammed in your face is pretty unpleasant, as is having to go through life without coffee. Also, there appears to be no small amount of pressure to participate in creepy parody videos of mainstream pop songs.

Another really tough thing is being a rape victim at Brigham Young University! Granted, it's not really great to be a rape victim anywhere or at any college, but if you go to BYU, the school may decide to use your police report to find ways in which you violated their "Honor Code" and kick you out. Which, of course, is a really fun thing to go through while simultaneously going through a rape trial.

That's what happened to student Madi Barney, who was raped in her off-campus apartment in Provo by a non-student who just so happened to be besties with a Utah County Sheriff's deputy -- both of whom are now also being charged with retaliating against a witness for sending the police file to the school in the first place.

Prosecutors in the case have asked the school to at least delay their investigation until the case is finished, both because it's a traumatic thing to put the victim through, and because the files were not obtained legally. The school has declined and says that Barney simply must participate in their investigation of her behavior and will be barred from registering for the next semester until she agrees to do so. It's not clear what part of their special Honor Code she violated, however violations can include dressing the wrong way, swearing, failing to be "chaste," having alcoholic beverages and, naturally, having a beard without a doctor's note.

Barney has spoken out about how this crap deters students from reporting sexual assaults, for fear that they may be kicked out of school for doing so -- noting that she herself waited four days to report her rape because she was "terrified about [her] standing at BYU."

The school insists that a student "will never be referred to the Honor Code Office for being a victim of sexual assault," and that these investigations are "independent and separate" from Title IX investigations. However, several other students have come forward to say that they, too, have been the subject of an Honor Code investigation after having been sexually assaulted. So far, over 24,000 people have signed a petition to give sexual assault victims immunity in these Honor Code investigations, and allow them to pursue justice against their attackers without fearing the kind of retaliation experienced by Barney and others.

In addition to the fact that it's a pretty horrible thing to do to someone who has just gone through the trauma of being raped, it's also pretty clear that this immunity is necessary in order to deter sexual assault in the first place. Barney's alleged attacker and his buddy were obviously aware of the Honor Code and used it to attempt to retaliate against her and make it harder for her to testify against him. How many other rapes haven't been reported because a student at BYU was too afraid of being kicked out of school? How many creeps thought they could get away with raping someone, counting on that fear?

Hopefully, the school will want to avoid all this bad publicity and save their important investigation into whether or not a rape victim maybe said a swear word or wore a tank top or had a cocktail until this trial is over, or even do the right thing and call it off altogether. That would sure be nice!

[Salt Lake Tribune]

Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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