The alleged sexual assault victim on UH campus has admitted to lying
By Stephanie Shor, News Editor
UH Hilo campus experienced a mass hysteria this month as it dealt with rumors of attempted sexual assault and security threats. A second-year Marine Science Major initially reported to campus security and local law enforcement that she had been the victim of a sexual assault at knifepoint in the Geology Building bathroom in the late afternoon of Nov. 19.
Only 19-years-old, the student in question was facing disciplinary issues with her mother in Ewa Beach on Oahu. Fearing repercussions of adolescent mistakes from the summer, the student fed off of the unfortunate assault which occurred at Hale Alahonua dorms nearly two months ago, on Oct. 5. This incident, which is still under police investigation, has been the only verified and reported case of sexual assault on Hilo’s campus this semester.
The realization that such an incident would take the heat off of her bad decisions; the girl called her mother and offered the hysteric story of an assault by a tall, blonde young man in the bathroom on campus. Upon hearing that her daughter had been attacked, the girl’s mother insisted on notifying campus security and Hilo Police. This explains the disparity between apparent assault time at 4:45 p.m. and time of report at about 7:15 p.m.
Before campus security could investigate the troubling allegations, rumors of the assault along with other tall-tales of sexual violence had flooded Facebook and other social media outlets. Gossip of lax security and multiple assaults on campus quickly spiraled out of control at an institution which usually sees very little reported crime in a typical school year. In fact, the university’s annual crime statistics provided through the Jeanne Clery Act, note that three reported cases of “forcible sex offenses” occurred in 2010, four in 2011 and no documented cases at all in 2012.
According to Director of Security Kolin Kettleson, there are typically four to six security guards on duty for the entire campus, including housing, at any given point during the day or night. An additional four parking guards are employed Monday through Friday until 4 p.m. Kettleson explained that the entire campus is sectioned into three parts with each utilizing one security officer and a “special duty guard” specifically for the dorms.
Guards are required to check in electronically at various locations throughout campus with “proxy pens” which Kettleson utilizes to “guarantee a consistent level of coverage throughout the campus at all times.” While their dispatcher currently monitors approximately 40 cameras throughout the area, this number is now “growing exponentially” along with the number of security officers which will expand relative to necessity.
The girl left the Big Island to be with her mother in O’ahu immediately after her claim of assault and returned two days later amidst an onslaught of press coverage. She met with a sketch artist at the Hilo Police Station the morning of her return and, during this meeting, a police officer noticed that her story was simply not adding up. Upon fumbling details of her account and physical description of the assailant, the young woman eventually admitted to her lie and was forced to call her mother and confess.
UH Administration continued with their planned Town Hall meeting for students to express concerns of safety and sexual violence on Nov. 25, citing the positive benefits of such a scare. The entire student body seemed to stand in a stronger sense of solidarity than ever before after the elaborate hoax. In fact, student and self-defense instructor Link Pascual and Karl Carlysle have been attempting to rally the women of UH all semester to take advantage of their free self-defense classes at the Student Life Center.
Pascual noted that “The weakest link in security is the human element. It is just a paycheck to them. These days, there are no more knights in shining armor, and so it becomes more necessary for women to learn how to protect themselves. No one should have to walk around feeling like a victim for any reason anymore.” Free lessons which are based upon the Israeli martial arts technique of Krav Maga, utilizes physics instead of pure strength according to Pascual. “One of my female students is 79-years-old and she can kick my butt!” He said.
Carlysle and Pascual can usually always be found at the Student Life Center or contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up for lessons in self-empowerment. The Women’s Center on campus had been attempting to form classes early in the semester but was inevitably not sanctioned for organized class times by the university. They however, still provide invaluable support to women through counseling and advising services for any situation in which a student may feel unsafe.
If you or anyone that you know feels threatened, please contact the Woman’s Center at 808-932-7381. The young girl responsible for fabricating the assault story spoke through tears when recanting her allegations. “I want to make amends for giving false information under pressure and I’m just sorry that I lied.” While an attack hoax such as this always leaves a community feeling deceived or bitter, the only way to positively move on may be in realizing the need for preventative measures to protect ourselves and our classmates in the future.