Coverage of Campus Sexual Assault at BYU

This exhaustive and meticulously reported year-long inquiry into BYU’s practice of investigating students who report sexual assaults for possible violations of the school’s Honor Code led to sweeping policy changes at BYU, and prompted wider soul-searching on rape culture in Utah. Judges called The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage “a rare combination of journalistic rigor, aggressive reporting and compassion.” Originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune between April - October, 2016.


BYU students say victims of sexual assault are targeted by Honor Code

BYU students say victims of sexual assault are targeted by Honor Code

Prosecutor says rape case is threatened by BYU Honor Code investigation

Prosecutor says rape case is threatened by BYU Honor Code investigation

By Jessica Miller and Erin Alberty, Originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune on April 15, 2016

Prosecutors say Brigham Young University is jeopardizing a pending rape prosecution because the school refuses to delay its Honor Code case against the alleged victim.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Craig Johnson brought charges against Madi Barney's alleged attacker and said he implored school officials to consider that their Honor Code investigation of her conduct would further victimize her. He asked them to postpone their investigation until the conclusion of the trial, originally planned for next month.

He said they declined, and have barred Barney from registering for future classes until she complies with the school's investigation.

Deputy County Attorney Craig Johnson poses for a portrait in Provo Wednesday April 13, 2016.

That could make it difficult for her to stay in Utah and participate in the rape case, Johnson said.

"When we have a victim that is going to be revictimized any time she talks about the rape — it's unfortunate that BYU is holding her schooling hostage until she comes to meet with them," Johnson said. "And we, as prosecutors, prefer she doesn't meet with them."

The Honor Code probe began after a Utah County sheriff's deputy, a friend of the accused attacker, gave BYU a copy of the police case file. Johnson said he has stressed to school officials that the file is "paperwork that lawfully they shouldn't have."

Prosecutors charged the rape defendant and the deputy with retaliating against a witness, but the cases have since been dismissed.

Barney, 19, reported to Provo police that she was raped in her off-campus apartment by a man last September. About two months later, court records said, she was contacted by staff at the BYU Honor Code and Title IX offices, who told her they were given a copy of the police case file. Campus Title IX offices are charged with enforcing a federal law that guarantees students don't face hostility on campus based on their sex.

Information in the file — which included at least 20 pages of detailed statements and a report on her sexual assault medical exam — implicated Barney in violations of BYU's Honor Code, according to court records. The code is a catalog of rules, such as a dress code, a ban on alcohol and other prohibitions for students at the private school, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Barney was asked to participate in the school's evaluation of her actions. Johnson and Barney's attorney, Liesel LeCates, both said school lawyers rebuffed their requests to suspend their process in the interest of the criminal case.

LeCates said the school's attorneys claimed Honor Code action must be taken right away to comply with federal law. LeCates acknowledged Title IX calls for swift action, but said that to use the federal provision against a crime victim in BYU's Honor Code process "goes against the legislative intent of Title IX."

"The reason that exists is to keep perpetrators from staying on campus ... when criminal proceedings can take years," LeCates said. Instead, she said BYU is "taking that and using it against [a victim]."

University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said Thursday that Title IX allows for universities to delay an investigation "while the police are gathering evidence in a related criminal case." But she could not comment on Barney's case or why no delay was granted after Johnson's request.

She emphasized that a Title IX investigation is separate and independent from the Honor Code process, and that a student would "never be referred to the Honor Code office for being a victim of sexual assault."

But multiple BYU students investigated by the school's Honor Code Office have disagreed, saying they were scrutinized as a result of reporting a sex crime.

'Once too many'

After investigating how BYU obtained the police file, prosecutors charged the defendant in the rape case, who is not a BYU student, and his friend, Utah County Sheriff's deputy Edwin Randolph, with retaliating against a witness. The third-degree felony carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors say that after the rape defendant bailed out of jail, he gave a copy of his case file to Randolph. The deputy took it to BYU officials, court papers said, knowing that the victim could be disciplined by the Honor Code Office for details in the report.

LeCates said the school's attorneys told her that the Honor Code Office does not have to disregard "fruit of the poisonous tree," a legal standard that can block criminal prosecutors from using evidence that was not lawfully obtained.

Both Johnson and Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said they are unaware of other witness retaliation cases involving Honor Code punishment. It's also the first time the Honor Code Office has potentially interfered with a prosecution, they said.

"Certainly any time it happens once, it's once too many," Johnson said. "... Despite this problem with the Honor Code Office, we at the county attorney's office would hope this would not dissuade future victims from coming forward and reporting. The biggest issue is getting rapists off the street, and I'm proud of this victim for standing up for herself and future victims."

At a court hearing for the rape defendant, prosecutors played a recorded police interview with Randolph, who said he gave Barney's report to the Honor Code Office.

Randolph, who has coached track at BYU as well as working as a sheriff's deputy, said he consulted with a friend who previously worked at the Honor Code Office. He said that friend encouraged him to give the report to code enforcers.

Randolph also seemed to believe that law enforcement officers were obligated to submit records of Honor Code violations to BYU, testified Provo police Detective Martin Webb.

"Mr. Randolph mentioned that he worked for BYU, and ... he said even I would have to, or we would have to turn [the records] in — I assume he meant it as law enforcement — to BYU," Webb said in the hearing.

In the recorded interview, Randolph said he didn't believe the rape allegation and that the police report showed Barney's behavior was "unacceptable" for a BYU student.

"I'm not here to judge her, but I think, she's in school here and she's screwing around," Randolph said. "When I was [a BYU student], we had guys get in trouble for this stuff, so I think it's a problem."

Randolph and his attorney did not immediately comment. A trial in the rape case was scheduled for next month, but it was delayed due to questions as to the defendant's competency.


Neither man faces a witness retaliation charge. The charge against the defendant was dismissed last month after a preliminary hearing, during which Judge Darold McDade ruled there was not enough evidence that the man knew that Randolph would use the case file against Barney.

It was Buhman, the county attorney, who asked a judge to dismiss Randolph's case.

Buhman said he opted to seek the dismissal after reviewing information gleaned from an internal affairs investigation conducted by the sheriff's office. He would not disclose what the investigation found — in fact, he said Johnson, his own prosecutor, was not allowed to know what facts led to the dismissal.

"It was fairly clear to me that there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr. Randolph," the county attorney said. "... This was a very rare case that I was privy to information that a prosecutor could not have that was sufficiently important."

Buhman said he was able to see the information because he also oversees the county's civil division. He said that while the information would not be allowed in court, he knew it was true and believed dismissing the case was the right thing to do.

The case was dismissed without prejudice, which means it could be refiled. But Johnson said he's not planning to refile the charge.

The defense attorney in the rape defendant's case has noted that the case against Randolph appeared to be substantial.

"There's plenty of evidence that others, namely Edwin Randolph [and his friends], caused harm," defense attorney Greg Stewart said during his closing argument at the preliminary hearing in the rape case. "... If the state wants to prosecute these others, they're free to do so. It seems like they'd gone down that path and for whatever reasons, political or otherwise, they've chosen not to."

Randolph is still an employee in the sheriff's office jail division, according to Deputy Chief Darin Durfey. He said an internal investigation showed that Randolph violated work policies, but did not commit any crimes. He received a reprimand and was returned to duty after being on paid leave.

Sexual assault victims say abusers wield BYU’s Honor Code as a weapon

Sexual assault victims say abusers wield BYU’s Honor Code as a weapon

By Erin Alberty, Originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune on April 26, 2016

Julie, who asked to be identified by her first name, said she was a “strict rule-follower” as a 19-year-old Brigham Young University student in 2012, when a 27-year-old neighbor raped her after pressuring her to stay in his apartment past the curfew spelled out in the school’s Honor Code. He then threatened to report her to school officials for violating curfew — and because she had lost faith in the LDS Church, she said. She said the man continued to assault her over the following weeks as he threatened to report her.

Julie remembers her 19-year-old self as a "strict rule-follower."

But her neighbor, whom she had been casually dating for about a month, started urging her to bend the Honor Code at Brigham Young University. Hanging out in his apartment when his roommates turned out not to be home, or staying too late — these were hardly criminal transgressions, he assured her.

One day in October 2012, Julie relented. Alone with the 27-year-old in his apartment, she soon found herself trapped by what police describe as a predatory tactic targeting BYU students.

The man raped her, Julie said, and then threatened to report her to Honor Code officials if she were to report him to police.

As BYU has come under fire amid students' claims that they were investigated by the school as a result of reporting sexual assaults, critics have pointed to the chilling effect that scrutiny has on victims. More than two dozen current and former BYU students have told The Salt Lake Tribune they did not report sex crimes against them — many for fear of school discipline.

That risk becomes a weapon when an abuser exploits it as a direct threat against a victim, said Provo Police Sgt. Brian Taylor, who has worked in the department's sex-crimes unit.

Disciplining students who report sexual assaults, Taylor said, "creates a safe haven" for abusers and a "strong disincentive" for victims to report.

"Everybody is less safe," Taylor said. "What's the greater good? Protecting the moral integrity of the institution by punishing every identifiable act of consensual sex? Or are we going to deal with predators? It seems this question needs to be asked and answered."

More than 110,000 people have signed an online petition to add an amnesty clause to BYU's Honor Code to safeguard sexual assault victims. BYU has announced it is considering "structural changes" to how it handles sex-crime allegations.

Taylor said it is hard to quantify how often abusers use the Honor Code to prevent reports to police or school authorities because often it works. However, The Tribune has learned of multiple cases in which current and former students said abusers explicitly threatened Honor Code action to silence them, retaliate or extort favors and gifts.

To wield the threat of school discipline as a weapon, all an abuser has to do is entice a victim to break a rule, said Kortney Hughes, victim services coordinator for the Provo Police Department.

"Predators aren't stupid," she said. "They will use any influence they have to pressure [a victim]."

'He told me ... no one would believe it' 

Looking back, Julie said, it seems like a setup. Breaking the Honor Code was out of character for her, she said, but her neighbor was persistent.

"He did pressure me ... even when I expressed discomfort. Lots of 'Come on, it's fine, don't worry,' " recalled Julie, who asked to be identified by her first name only. The Tribune generally does not name victims of sexual assault.

What began as a consensual kissing in her neighbor's apartment quickly escalated, Julie said. He tried to take off her clothes and reach under them. She pushed him off and said no, but he kept grabbing and forced himself on top of her.

"My mind shut down, and I waited for it to be over," Julie said.

When Julie's neighbor tried to contact her later that day, she told him he knew he had raped her, and she didn't want to see him again.

He pointed out that she didn't have any obvious injuries to prove she'd resisted.

"Because I didn't fight tooth and nail and break a rib or something, he told me if I came forward, no one would believe it was rape and I would get kicked out of school," Julie recalled.

Julie said she believed — and still believes — that her rapist's prediction was accurate. Julie was a volunteer operator for the rape hotline run by the Center For Women and Children in Crisis in Orem.

"On the rape crisis unit, I had worked with at least a half a dozen women who were traumatized, having been raped; were brave enough to report it; and got kicked out of school because of the circumstances surrounding the rape," Julie said. BYU officials have said a student is never disciplined "for being a victim of sexual assault," but it acknowledges that a victim may be investigated for related violations of the Honor Code.

Even if Julie were able to convince school officials that she had been raped and avoid punishment for being alone with a man in his apartment, she said her neighbor knew she had a secret — one that could get her kicked out of BYU anyway.

Julie was losing faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns BYU. Students are required to obtain and keep an endorsement from a religious leader. Although students from a non-Mormon faith may switch their religious affiliation while enrolled, LDS students are required to remain in good standing with the LDS Church.

Before the rape, Julie had admitted to her neighbor that she was having doubts after he noticed she didn't seem very happy at church.

"I think that was how he was able to pick me out as a target," Julie said. "He blackmailed me with that information for months. He used that to get me to go out with him, to go to church with him. I still had to make out with him. He would still reach under my clothes. ... He was threatening to tell the Honor Code people about my faith transition."

'I just didn't report it' 

Even if a victim is in full compliance with the Honor Code, an abuser can exploit it by threatening to lie. Premarital sex is forbidden by BYU's rules, so if school investigators believe a victim consented, the student can be punished for violating the chastity requirement.

A current student, who asked to be identified by the pseudonym Emily, said that is why she did not report a fellow student who groped her in February.

She had gone on one date with the student, who suddenly began behaving awkwardly, saying he felt guilty because he had kissed her, she said. Emily said he contacted her, wanting to apologize. Instead, she said, he pulled her into a room at the Wilkinson Center and kissed her forcefully, pushing her against a wall. She said he fondled her under her clothes despite her protests.

When his roommate walked into the room, Emily said, she was crying and her pants were down. The roommate said, "Hey man, we gotta be somewhere in 30 minutes," she recalled.

"He didn't even seemed surprised," she said of the roommate.

She did not report the student's transgression, she said, because she didn't expect Honor Code staff to believe her — based on her previous experience with an unrelated school investigation.

In summer 2015, Emily had reported to police that a man had assaulted her during a date in July in Orem. Police found bite marks on her body, according to charges of object rape and forcible sexual abuse filed against the man. In January, he attacked Emily while she was working as a janitor at BYU, according to kidnapping and witness-retaliation charges against him.

She reported the workplace attack to the school's Title IX office, which is tasked by the federal government with protecting students from sex discrimination and reviews complaints of sexual violence against students.

Emily said the Title IX coordinator, Sarah Westerberg, told her the Honor Code Office would have to substantiate her off-campus rape allegation, even though the defendant was not a BYU student, and review Emily's behavior for potential Honor Code violations. That investigation appears to have stalled because the defendant refused to cooperate with the school, Emily said.

After the February assault in the Wilkinson Center, she said, the student who groped her used the Honor Code Office to threaten her.

"He told me if I told anyone, he would tell the Honor Code Office it was [consensual] — and that his roommate would back him up," Emily said.

"After my experience with that [previous case], I 100 percent believed that was exactly what would happen. They were going to believe [the criminal defendant] without any witnesses, and this guy had a roommate that was going to back him up and say he did nothing wrong. I just didn't report it, even though it happened on campus."

'How naive I was' 

Allison Davies said she had not planned to report her then-boyfriend to police after he raped her in 2006.

Then 21 and a student at BYU, she was dating a man she described as "one of those guys who's older and single and hangs around Provo." They had a consensual physical relationship, she said. But when he wanted to have sex, Davies said, she looked him in the eye and frantically shook her head "no."

He ignored her, said Davies, who agreed to be identified by The Tribune.

Because Davies had never been taught about consent, she said, she didn't know until a meeting with a therapist years later that what had happened was rape.

"[Consent] was never talked about in a very public way because people are assumed to wait until they're married to be in these situations," said Davies. "I think I was preyed on because of how naive I was."

The man manipulated and belittled her, she said. When she tried to end the relationship, he sneaked into her basement bedroom on a Saturday morning and flew into a rage.

"He got very threatening at that point with me," she said. "My heart was absolutely pounding and racing. I remember him going up the stairs of the basement, getting on the phone with the Honor Code Office, threatening to report me."

Because it was a weekend, no one answered, and he would have to wait two days to turn in Davies. Instead, he left and called her every three or four minutes for the rest of the day — "no less than 100 times."

Davies said a mutual friend talked him out of reporting her to the Honor Code Office, but only after a struggle.

"It was the one thing where he had power over me," Davies said.

Sgt. Taylor said the Honor Code's approach to victims of sex crimes further muddies already-widespread misunderstandings about consent.

"Sex without consent is a crime," Taylor said. "Consent can be given, and it can be withdrawn. People may engage in a wide variety of consensual activity and still say no to intercourse. [If intercourse happens anyway], that's a crime and we treat it that way. Say a female BYU student engages in a short menu of sexual activities with a male partner and then she gets raped. How should the Honor Code treat that?"

'I can hold this over them' 

Some predators discover that the threat of an Honor Code investigation can leverage more than just a victim's silence.

In 2012, Brad Ray Adams, then 36, met with a male BYU student via a personal ad on Craigslist. The student sent sexually explicit photographs of himself to Adams, police wrote in court documents.

Adams threatened to send the photos to BYU's Honor Code Office, which police say led to a cycle of extortion in which Adams demanded sex and money from the student.

The student already had given Adams $260 when Adams demanded another $800 — or, police wrote, he would accept $600 along with sexual favors.

By the time the victim reported the extortion to police, Adams had told the victim's fiancée of their sexual contact, which ended the engagement, and had outed the victim to the rest of his family, investigators wrote.

After police set up a sting to make a payment to Adams, he was charged with attempted forcible sodomy, voyeurism, theft by extortion and attempted theft by extortion. In a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to the two misdemeanor extortion charges and was sentenced to 15 days in jail, a year on probation and a fine of $636.

Prosecutor Craig Johnson at the time said he wanted to pursue a first-degree-felony forcible-sodomy charge, but the victim was reluctant to participate in the case.

"Where someone's sexual orientation is outed — especially combine that with the unique religious affiliation with BYU ­­— and the pressures affected the victim in a way that he did not want to testify," Johnson said.

The victim remained a student at BYU and was "working through things" with the university, Johnson has said.

The student told police that Adams claimed to have extorted cash from "several other men and ruined their lives in similar fashion," police wrote, though Taylor said investigators found no evidence of other victims.

Grooming and threatening are well-known strategies among sexual predators everywhere, Taylor said; these techniques are not isolated to Provo.

BYU's Honor Code provides abusers yet another mechanism to control victims, he said.

"Any sex-crimes investigator will tell you that an offender will use whatever pressure he thinks will get a victim to not report: He'll threaten to hurt you, he'll threaten to embarrass you, he'll threaten to tell an employer, he'll tell a kid, 'Your mom won't love you if you tell anybody,' " Taylor said. "This behavior is just part of that victimology. There's one more handle that an offender has over a victim: 'Oh, this person goes to school at an institution that's allergic to sex, so I can hold this over them.' "

How outdated Mormon teachings may be aiding and abetting ‘rape culture’

How outdated Mormon teachings may be aiding and abetting ‘rape culture’

By Peggy Fletcher Stack and Erin Alberty, Originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune on May 6, 2016

Better dead clean, than alive unclean.

That Mormon mantra apparently was ringing in a young Brigham Young University student's mind in 1979 as she leapt from a would-be attacker's car on the freeway.

Being raped, the student believed, would rob her of "virtue" — virginity — a prize she could never regain. Her life would be over, so why not jump?

This message was preached repeatedly by LDS leaders of that era and in a widely read church volume, President Spencer W. Kimball's "The Miracle of Forgiveness." It was encapsulated in a 1974 LDS First Presidency statement, which asserted that only if a woman resisted an attacker "with all her strength and energy" would she not be "guilty of unchastity."

It was taught to each new generation through the decades, often presuming rape was somehow consensual sex — and placing much of the blame on women.

Today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes a healthier approach in its official pronouncements.

Rape victims "often suffer serious trauma and feelings of guilt" and "are not guilty of sin," Handbook 1 for local lay leaders states. "Church leaders should be sensitive to such victims and give caring attention to help them overcome the destructive effects of abuse."

But old ideas can be tough to quash.

In modern Mormon-speak, young women still are taught that "virtue" remains nearly synonymous with chastity. The faith's signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, describes how evil men kidnapped the "daughters of the Lamanites" and then deprived them of "that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue."

Mormon women, especially at LDS-owned schools, continue to be bombarded with the notion that they are at least partially responsible for sexual assaults by what they wear or do, or how hard they fight back.

This comes at a time when Americans nationwide are grappling with victim-blaming "rape culture," what it means and how to eradicate it.

No longer is rape viewed as a crime committed primarily by "a large man in a trench coat who approaches a woman late at night and forces her at knifepoint to engage in sexual acts," says college administrator Michael Austin. "More often, women are raped by men that they know, or trust, or have relationships with."

It is important that contemporary colleges teach faculty and students to understand the definition of consent and that permission for sexual activity can be revoked at any time.

A fairly small number of sexual predators are responsible for a large percentage of these rapes, says Austin, a Mormon and BYU graduate who works as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Newman University, a Catholic college in Wichita, Kan. "They are intentional. They know what they are doing and know how to use tools the culture gives them."

Getting rid of predators, especially in Mormon culture, he says, means rejecting some longstanding presumptions, including the belief that women are responsible for men's sexual behavior, that they lie about their experiences to escape accountability or that they would always be safe if they simply obeyed church or school standards.

Austin has heard all these arguments in recent days as commenters defend BYU's Honor Code Office for investigating or penalizing assault victims, not for their rapes, but for drinking, staying out late or being in guys' rooms.

Some Mormons "came right out and blamed women for breaking rules," he writes in a post for the LDS blog By Common Consent, "with the clear implication that getting raped is the punishment they deserve because they are, you know, sinners."

More troubling, Austin says, is that such attitudes echo what young Latter-day Saints learn at church about modesty, sexuality and gender.

"I can trace what my daughter is learning in Young Women" — the LDS organization for girls ages 12 to 17 — "and what is playing out at BYU."


Double bind

Though Mormon teachings call on both genders to be chaste before marriage, too often LDS men and women hear different messages about sex, says Chicago-based Mormon therapist Jennifer Finlayson-Fife.

Men are told they have a natural sex drive, which is inherent to being male, she says. "They are the actors in sexual situations, but they are also taught they can't control it."

Women, on the other hand, get the idea that they may be sexual beings but don't have desire the way men do, Finlayson-Fife says. "Femininity is constructed as nonsexual."

They are the "sober drivers" in these interactions, she says, "more responsible for any sexual interactions by the way they dress, behave and setting limits on when to stop."

LDS women are expected to be "nice," "deferential" and "accommodating to men's needs," but also are responsible for "fending off men's advances," the therapist says. "It's a double bind."

And, she says, these dynamics play out again and again in Mormon relationships.

Consider the case of Meagan Leyva, a first-year student at BYU in January 2014 when she began seeing a 25-year-old returned Mormon missionary who attended nearby Utah Valley University and lived in BYU housing.

"He had me over, late at night. We were messing around a little bit," Leyva recalls. "It felt a little off, and I kept telling him, 'I don't want to have sex. I don't want to have sex' ... and then it was happening."

She felt "violated," she says, and yet also guilty.

She was breaking Honor Code rules by being in his apartment, especially late at night, Leyva says. "If I hadn't done that, this wouldn't have happened. So the blame sort of fell back on me. It felt wrong. I knew [what he did] was wrong, but I knew I was in the wrong, too."

The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not name sexual-assault victims, but Leyva agreed to be identified.

By the time she left her attacker's place, she says, it was 4 or 5 a.m.

"It was January and freezing, obviously. ... I was carrying my shirt and my bra with me. I was just wearing a sweatshirt I had worn. ... It was snowing. ... It just felt so ironic because it was so white and so pure, and here I was, not pure anymore."

Leyva says she didn't report the assault to police because it wasn't until months later that she realized what had occurred to her amounted to rape.

Mormons are quick to blame the woman in encounters like Leyva's, Finlayson-Fife says. "We want to look away from human cruelty. We want to believe somehow it was deserved or such women had it coming. … We want to think a woman like that had more control than she had. That makes us all feel better."

The Chicago therapist would like to see Honor Code infractions disconnected from sexual-assault allegations.

"We want victims to come forward," she says, "and perpetrators removed."

In addition, Finlayson-Fife is adamant that Mormon views of repentance should have no place in a rape investigation for victims. Not all LDS bishops, however, understand the distinction.


Who's to blame?

In fall 2009, Catherine — who asked that only her first name be used — was a BYU sophomore. She was assaulted by a male friend in her apartment after some light kissing.

"You always think you're going to fight. I was in a self-defense class that semester, especially for women to defend against sexual assault," she says. "But this isn't a stranger in the bushes. I [didn't] know what to do with him. I also had this weird fear of hurting him and getting him in trouble."

Catherine had little knowledge of male sexuality.

"My mother had told me men can't control themselves sexually, and once they're aroused, then they can't turn back. They cannot stop themselves, they have to follow the arousal all the way ... otherwise they'll be hurt," she recalls. "… I thought I just had to let him get to climax, and he'd leave me alone."

After he left, she showered and took her clothes and bedding to the dumpster. It was Sunday morning.

When Catherine texted the rapist to tell him she planned to seek charges, he said he would confess and would say it was consensual. It would be her word against his.

"I tried to go to church, but I walked into church and started crying," she says. "A friend found me curled up on the sidewalk and crying. She said, 'I don't know what's wrong, but let's take you to the bishop.' "

Catherine says she told the bishop of her student ward, or congregation, that she was raped.

"The first words out of his mouth were: 'Let's get you started on the repentance process.' "

And Kimball's book, though out of print, is still often distributed by well-meaning Mormon bishops who believe it will help rape victims "repent."


A disturbing message

The late LDS president, beloved by many, published "Miracle of Forgiveness" in 1969.

The loss of chastity is "far-reaching," Kimball writes. "Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. … It is better to die in defending one's virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle."

In 1998, an 18-year-old Mormon convert in New York was raped by her boyfriend.

The woman, who asked that her name not be used, was terrified that her Catholic parents might kill him if she told them. So she went to her LDS bishop, seeking money for a pregnancy test.

He gave her the money — and a copy of "Miracle."

The now-36-year-old says she was "disfellowshipped" by the bishop, who had known her since her baptism four years earlier. She was forbidden from taking the sacrament, or communion, speaking in church, serving in a church position or performing temple rituals.

"I was blindsided," she says. "I was a Molly Mormon. All I wanted was a beautiful white wedding and kids. The rapist robbed me of all of that."

The woman, who now lives in Salt Lake City, says she had trouble enough forgiving herself, but Kimball's book made it worse.

Such a misguided response to sexual assaults is still happening on Mormon campuses and elsewhere.

In 2009, when a BYU student sought help from her ecclesiastical leader after a male friend threw her down on his bed, groping and assaulting her, the bishop responded in much the same way as the man in New York had.

The victim, Britt, who did not want her last name used, says she was told she no longer could participate in many church activities.

"The bishop had a whole entire drawer full of 'The Miracle of Forgiveness,' " she says. "He took one out and handed it to me."


Reversing shame

Austin, the university administrator in Kansas, insists it's time Mormons reverse their use of shame.

Shame is a powerful cultural tool to use in enforcing norms, he says, "but we've made victims feel ashamed and not predators."

Instead, he says, men need to be "shamed" for objectifying women, for refusing to be accountable and for any coercive actions.

Retired BYU physics professor Kent Harrison, who has been working since 1979 to shift attitudes at his Provo school and in his faith, believes approaches to rape have changed over time.

"My impression is that the old attitude — better dead than a nonvirgin — is mostly gone," he says. "But the issue of rape is still not talked about much in General Conference or on the church website."

He would like to see more leaders in the Young Women and all-female adult Relief Society discuss sexual issues openly, especially as they address the Utah-based church's expanding female membership across the globe.

Even Mormonism's most famous rape victim, Elizabeth Smart, had internalized feelings of self-loathing when she was routinely assaulted by her captor.

Smart didn't try to escape as a 14-year-old, she later told national audiences, because she felt like a "chewed-up piece of gum; nobody rechews a piece of gum, you throw it away" — repeating an analogy she had heard growing up.

The poised 28-year-old wife, mother and activist now knows that comparison is flawed — and that someone's "virtue" cannot be stolen.

BYU students who reported sex assaults say they faced presumption of guilt

BYU students who reported sex assaults say they faced presumption of guilt

By Erin Alberty, Originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune on May 19, 2016

Brooke, who asked to be identified by her first name, was suspended from Brigham Young University for two years after she reported being raped in 2014. She said her assailant, also a student, pressured her to use acid and raped her while she was high. She said she told school officials that all sexual contact with the man had been coerced with threats or physically forced — but a disciplinary letter from BYU cites “continued illegal drug use and consensual sex” as the reasons for her removal.

E.M. recalls being shaken by her freshman-year boyfriend's patchy affection for her — his sudden swings from adoration to contempt.

There was the "play" wrestling, which escalated repeatedly to painful hits and kicks if he wasn't happy, she said. There was the pushy, increasing sexual contact — and, she said, the persistent fear that she'd get hurt if she didn't perform.


After they finally broke up, E.M. said, her ex-boyfriend raped her.


Feeling violated and unable to process what had happened, E.M. said she turned to the Mormon bishop at her student ward, or congregation, at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University.


Ultimately, E.M. was suspended from classes for "moral misconduct," according to a 2015 disciplinary letter from the school's Honor Code Office.

The Salt Lake Tribune has interviewed at least a dozen current and former students who say they were investigated or disciplined for Honor Code violations in connection with sexual abuses against them.


Students said school officials thoroughly probed their conduct — from curfew violations to what they were wearing — even after they said they had not consented to sex.


Andy, at 17, could not legally consent to sex with his older abuser. Britt said she told her date no and pushed his hands away when he groped her. Hailey Allen said her ex-boyfriend broke into her apartment to attack her, and in another instance choked her until she nearly blacked out.


All three said they were punished for not being chaste. They and other students said school officials appeared to view physical or emotional abuse endured by a student simply as factors to weigh, rather than as evidence that they did not consent.


"There seems to be at BYU a sense that if a [victim] claims to have been raped, she has an affirmative burden to prove she did not consent to sexual activity," said Michael Austin, a BYU graduate who has studied campus rape responses at religious colleges and oversees investigations as provost at Newman University, a Catholic college in Wichita, Kan.


"Having been at BYU, I do know that there's a persistent fear that somebody is going to have sex and get away with it, and there is a persistent suspicion that women are going to lie about being raped. Those are both very damaging assumptions to make in the modern world. ... It's a 1950s understanding of rape, especially rape on college campuses."


Many students also said their own feelings of guilt, or confusion, about what had happened to them left them unable to advocate for themselves while under the threat of discipline.


Self-blame is "almost universal" among victims of sexual assault and the product of a natural "defense mechanism" after trauma, said Donna Kelly, a prosecutor and instructor on sex crimes for the Utah Prosecution Council.


"You want to figure out what you did wrong so you can be safe in the future," Kelly said.


If an authority figure misreads that self-blame as evidence of the victim's wrongdoing, she said, the effects on the victim can be devastating.

"It affects your whole life," Kelly said. " ... If you're dealing ... with someone who is reporting a traumatic event, and you don't understand trauma, you're not going to deal with it effectively. You're not going to interpret it correctly."



'I didn't do enough'


BYU students agree to "live a chaste and virtuous life," according to the university's code of conduct, which also imposes a strict dress code; forbids alcohol, coffee and illegal drugs; and regulates visits between male and female students at the Provo school, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


In recent weeks, the Provo school has faced criticism from victims' advocates and law enforcement who say punishing victims of sexual assault for Honor Code violations discourages them from reporting and protects sexual predators. More than 114,000 people have signed a petition asking BYU to offer amnesty from school discipline to students who report sex crimes.


Of more than 50 people who have told The Tribune they were sexually assaulted while attending BYU, a majority said they did not report the assaults — most of them citing fears that they would be held guilty of chastity violations, either for the assault or for prior sexual contact.


BYU has said it is "committed to thoroughly addressing concerns related to sexual assault" and is studying possible changes to its handling of reports. It announced a new website Thursday, inviting suggestions.


BYU has not responded to questions submitted Wednesday morning by The Tribune.


While The Tribune generally does not identify victims of sexual assault, sources in this story agreed to the use of their initials, first names or full names.


Britt, a former BYU student who asked to be identified by her first name, said she was punished for being unchaste even though she never consented to sexual contact.


Describing the Honor Code Office's approach, she said, "I should have tried harder, I should have done more than I did. I still 'sinned' because I didn't do enough to get out of there."


Britt said she was on a first date with a fellow BYU student when he urged her to enjoy the view from his upstairs bedroom window in an apartment on Provo's mountain bench. Suddenly, she said, the man grabbed her from behind, pulled her onto his bed, and groped her as she told him no and tried to push his hands away.


"I told him I wanted to go home, but he told me he couldn't take me home because we had to go have dinner with his friend or something," Britt said. "So I awkwardly had to stay with him. I didn't have a car, and he wouldn't take me home."


The man refused to take Britt home until the next morning, she said.


Britt recalled having little understanding at that time of the legal significance that she did not consent; she said she turned to her LDS bishop instead of police.


"He told me I wasn't worthy to take the sacrament anymore because of what happened," Britt said.


Instructions for local LDS lay leaders, known as Handbook 1, state that rape victims "often suffer serious trauma and feelings of guilt" and "are not guilty of sin. It says church leaders "should be sensitive to such victims and give caring attention to help them overcome the destructive effects of abuse."


Just months before Britt's graduation, she discovered a hold on her enrollment when she tried to register for her final semester of classes.

Apparently, she said, her bishop had reported her to the Honor Code Office. She appealed the hold to the office, where a counselor — BYU's title for those who investigate potential violations — reviewed the circumstances of the assault, Britt said.


"She asked me what I was wearing that night, which, I was wearing a deep V-neck," Britt recalled. "Apparently that was my fault."

Britt said she made it clear that the sexual contact was not consensual.


"I told them that I didn't want it, that it wasn't my fault, that he wouldn't take me home," she recalled. The school concluded, she added, that "I violated the law of chastity, I violated the rule [that] you can't be in someone's bedroom alone, and you can't be at someone's house past midnight."

Britt ultimately was put on academic probation and given a reading list of statements by Mormon leaders. She said she doesn't know whether the male student was punished.


"I had to write an essay saying what I did was bad and that I was sorry, and how to not get in that situation again," Britt said.



'I was scared to say no'


Brooke, who asked to be identified by her first name, also said the Honor Code Office punished her under chastity rules, although she had not consented to sex.


She has described being suspended from BYU for two years in 2014 after she reported being raped by a fellow student who had pressured her to use acid, also known as LSD. That rape was overtly forceful, she told BYU, and it ended when she fled naked into the streets of Provo.

A few days earlier, she said, the same man had demanded sexual favors.


"I was scared to say no and he was telling me I can't leave unless I do it. I felt trapped, and so it happened," Brooke said. "I felt dirty and gross and like I was being used and I didn't have a say in it. I had a sick feeling about it. That's not how you're supposed to feel after consensual sex."


When a school investigator described that first encounter as "consensual," Brooke said she objected and described his threats and pressure.

She provided to The Tribune images from a report in which a BYU investigator wrote: "Brooke did not want to engage in the sexual activity but did not know what to do and did not know how to resist."


Nonetheless, BYU's disciplinary letter cites "continued illegal drug use and consensual sex" as the reasons for her removal.


"They still just chose to ignore what I told [them]," Brooke said. "They didn't differentiate between consensual sex or coercion."

Brooke has not returned to BYU. She recalled taking frantic inventory of "what ifs."


"I could have done something to stop that, or I should have said 'no' louder, or I shouldn't have been there," Brooke said. "When bad things happen, guilt comes along."


Andy, another student who asked to be identified by his first name, said he was put on "withheld suspension" after his bishop ordered him to confess to Honor Code investigators that he'd had sex with a man he'd met online.


Andy said he did not consent, but the man used physical force and ignored his protests. Andy said while he had been unwilling to have sex, he didn't use the word "rape" with his Mormon bishop or with the Honor Code counselor.


"There's the stigma of, 'Guys don't get raped,' " he said.


But he said he did disclose a factor that he believes should have signaled abuse. Andy was 17, and his assailant was 25: a criminal age difference under Utah law.


While BYU did not remove him from classes, his discipline meant he lost his campus job and his housing. Andy eventually completed the terms of his suspension and remains a student at BYU.


"I have numerous gay friends, many of whom have been sexually assaulted, who live in fear that the Honor Code Office is going to find out and they're going to get kicked out of the university," Andy said. "Seeing the fear in their eyes, what every victim of rape feels. ... That's not how I want to live my life."



'What do I do now?'


E.M. said her LDS bishop and the Honor Code Office discounted her boyfriend's abuse. Her bishop's first reaction after she told him she'd been assaulted, she said, was to demand repentance.


"He sat there and thought about it for a while and said, 'I don't think I'll be able to help you. If you don't talk to [the Honor Code Office], then I'm going to report you," E.M. recalled.


She said she told the Honor Code Office she'd had sex with her boyfriend but hadn't wanted to, and in their final encounter was raped despite her protests.


She was suspended for three months. In her disciplinary letter, the Honor Code Office issued reading assignments with titles such as "The Miracle of Repentance" and "We Believe in Being Chaste." She has not returned to BYU.


No one at the school advised her to report to police or to the school's Title IX office, she said.


"Everyone just took it as me wanting it," E.M. said. "They didn't see it as a criminal thing. ... They made it seem like I was responsible for his actions and I shouldn't have been there to tempt him to want to do that sort of thing."


Victim blaming is a predictable pattern in cultural responses to sexual assault, said Julie Valentine, a BYU nursing professor and sexual-assault researcher.


"People think, 'What was she doing, that this awful thing happens to her? If I can blame her, I'll be safe. If I can pick out what she did wrong, then I'll be safe,' " Valentine said.


A dearth of education about consent may stop victims at BYU from pushing back against that blame.


E.M. said that she had never heard the terms "date rape" or "acquaintance rape" when she began college in 2014. Even after describing the assault by her boyfriend with phrases such as, "He just held me down," and "I told him 'no,' " she says of date rape: "I'm still not really sure what that means."


Nearly all of the victims who spoke with The Tribune recalled clearly communicating their refusals to their assailants — but many of them also said they did not know then that the forced sexual contact amounted to assault. Multiple students invoked an image of "a stranger in the bushes" to describe rape as they envisioned it before they were assaulted.


Students often arrive on campus without a clear understanding of date or acquaintance rape. According to a 2000 National Institute of Justice study of crimes against college students, women were unlikely to label an assault as rape if no weapon was used and were reluctant to consider someone they knew as a rapist.


Student Madeline MacDonald said that she was guided only by a feeling that "what just happened was not OK" after a blind date groped her while pinning her inside the cab of his pickup truck in 2014 in Orem.


"I was texting my roommates ... Googling definitions of sexual assault and crimes," MacDonald recalled. "We were like, 'Crap, that was sexual assault! What do I do now?' "


Lacking that vocabulary puts victims at a disadvantage when they have to advocate for themselves, said former student Hailey Allen.

Allen said she was punished by BYU in 2004 after her ex-boyfriend raped her multiple times — in one case choking her and in another breaking into her home.


Allen said she did not use the word "rape," and an Honor Code counselor threatened Allen with expulsion before Allen could disclose all of the details, she said. Her bishop argued on her behalf for academic probation only.


Allen was required to take a self-defense course and read a devotional that warned: "Sexual transgression is second only to murder in the Lord's list of life's most serious sins."


Later, Allen said, she read a novel about a marital rape.


"It was the first time I realized that someone you knew could rape you," Allen said. "I called my bishop and I said, 'Why didn't you tell me?' He said, 'Well, I didn't think I could give you that word. You had to come up with that word yourself.' "


Brooke said that's not realistic in a school environment where rape is framed by purity ideals that emphasize a victim's burden to prove innocence and resistance instead of a nuanced understanding of consent.


"It's hard for [victims] to explain," Brooke said. "Rape is a strong word, and people don't like to talk about it. If the people in the Honor Code Office experienced what we experienced, they'd understand. But they don't. They just have 'sex' and 'rape' and nothing between that. They don't make room for what happened to us."




The LDS Church was invited to comment shortly after this story was posted online Thursday. A spokesman expressed frustration that the church had not been invited to comment earlier and declined to comment for that reason. BYU, asked to comment Wednesday, has not responded to submitted questions.

Sex-assault victims and experts agree: Seeing BYU as inherently safe is ‘naive’

Sex-assault victims and experts agree: Seeing BYU as inherently safe is ‘naive’

By Rachel Piper, Originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune on June 3, 2016

Jennifer, center, said she was sexually assaulted while she was attending Brigham Young University more than 20 years ago. She and her husband have taught their three sons about healthy sexual behavior and boundaries, hoping to prevent them from becoming perpetrators or victims of sexual violence. Jennifer asked to be identified by her first name.

As an 18-year-old arriving on Brigham Young University's Provo campus in the mid-1980s, Anne assumed that students there "had high Mormon values, like I did. Students that want to drink and party and all that stuff, they don't go to BYU."

So when she was attacked by an acquaintance after a dance at BYU one night, she couldn't process what was happening.

Anne — who asked to be identified by a pseudonym — never reported to school officials or police. She never told her friends. And only in the past five years has she been able to call it, in her own mind, an attempted sexual assault.

But the night forever shook her belief that people could be trusted based on their professed beliefs or what school they attended.

People might be hearing about assaults at BYU for the first time, she says, but it doesn't mean they haven't been happening — for decades, to scores of women who never have come forward.

As BYU has come under scrutiny for its handling of sexual assault reports, many have asserted the Provo campus is safer than many other schools because of its Honor Code, which bans alcohol, sets curfews and limits when students can be alone with someone of the opposite sex. Rankings based on crime statistics have given the school, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, high marks for safety.

The code does reduce drinking, says Provo police Sgt. Brian Taylor, and there's a link between alcohol use and some sexual assaults.

But the Honor Code "is not a blanket protection that nothing will ever happen to you," he adds. "BYU understands that. They have a police force for a reason."

And crime data — especially as they relate to sexual assault — don't accurately reflect what students are experiencing, he says, echoing a point commonly raised by researchers.

Most sexual assaults are never reported. Most attacks against college women occur off campus, according to a federal study, but those assaults — in apartments, at social gatherings — are excluded from university crime statistics.

It's true that BYU "would be the last place you'd expect this to happen," Anne says.

But in a "life lesson you learn the hard way," she knows it does.

'I know this guy'

Anne was walking home from a dance with other students when one of the young men asked to talk to her in private. As they fell back from the group, he suggested they take the long way back to Deseret Towers.

"I hesitated," Anne recalls. "But then I was like, 'I know this guy, I know his name, I know his roommate.' "

He led her around the Marriott Center and up into a residential area, past the border of the campus. When he stopped in front of an empty lot with weeds growing high, Anne told him she was leaving. "And that's when he grabbed me," she says.

What happened next plays out in her memory in flashes. A dog at a nearby house started barking. A porch light flicked on. The man threw her on the ground, covered her mouth and told her to be quiet.

"I'm lying there in the dark and this dog is barking. I just lay there stiff. I guess I was in shock," she says. "Twenty minutes ago, I was with my friends and we were having a good time."

Someone took the dog inside and turned off the light, snapping Anne back to the present. She jumped up and started walking, fast, to get back to a public place. When she realized he was running to catch up with her, "I just took off," she recalls.

Her roommate was there when she burst into their dorm. But never did it cross Anne's mind to tell her what had just happened, especially because she didn't know how to define it.

What she felt in her gut at the time, she says, was that "it was my fault, and I should have known better."

She tried to pretend it had never happened. She often saw the man around campus for the next year and ignored him — except for a few times that she "found out he was calling or talking to a friend of mine," she says. She warned those women, "I wouldn't go out with him."

Years later, Anne was listening to a lecture about sexual assault and thought back to that night in the field. It was only then that she connected the words "sexual assault" to herself.

That was clearly his goal that night, she says.

"It seemed like he had done that before. He knew exactly what he was doing."

Less than 5 percent

Had Anne chosen to report the off-campus assault, she would have remained invisible in BYU's crime statistics.

Under the federal Clery Act, colleges must disclose how many students report assaults that happen on campus, or on public property — like a sidewalk — immediately adjacent to campus, or in an off-campus building owned by the school.

When students report assaults outside those boundaries, schools may provide them with services, such as changed class schedules or counseling. But even if another student is the accused abuser, those cases are left out of Çlery reports.

Within Clery limits, BYU reported 58 forcible sexual offenses between 2005 and 2014.

Asked to provide the total number of students who report forcible sex offenses, BYU cited federal guidelines and said it maintains "a confidential log that is not open to the public."

Zero sexual assaults were reported by BYU in 2005, 2006 and 2011. But it's unlikely that not one person was assaulted on campus in those years, says Julie Valentine, a nursing professor at BYU who researches sex crimes and violence against women.

"I don't think a zero is an accurate number for any university," she says.

Like Anne, many victims do not appear in the public statistics because they choose not to report.

In Utah as a whole, 11.8 percent of women who have been sexually assaulted have reported it, Valentine says. And reporting among college students is even lower. A 2000 National Institute of Justice study, which found most attacks against college women occur off campus, pegged the percentage of sex crimes reported by students at less than 5 percent.

Critics have argued that BYU students face an additional hurdle to reporting: fear of being prosecuted under the Honor Code for violations before the assault.

The Honor Code is a "significant issue to be addressed" when it comes to reporting, Valentine says. She is part of a four-member advisory council formed by BYU last month to look into how the school handles reported sexual assaults.

She also points to a different barrier: students not understanding that they were raped.

Many young people "have very little sex education, and I think this really hurts them," Valentine says. "They might be making out, and then things start to progress, and they really don't know what's happening and they freeze."

A victim, experiencing "real terror," Valentine says, might be unable to move, speak or recognize what is happening. And after they're out of that situation, she says, they might think, "maybe that's just how it is, or maybe it wasn't a big deal."

"It's hard for many people who have been victimized to get to the point where they can say, 'This happened to me,' " Valentine says.

'This unrealistic perception'

Nicole, now 23, came to BYU expecting a different culture from other places she had lived around the West. After she was assaulted her first year, she says, "I've realized that's not really the case."

She hopes BYU will adopt an amnesty clause, granting students immunity from being investigated for lesser infractions if they report a violent crime.

"It's a matter of safety," she says. "We have this unrealistic perception of Utah, of BYU, of how everyone's good here. Going into a situation thinking you'll be safe, with all these rules and regulations, it puts you in a worse situation — you're not watching yourself as much as you should."

Four years ago, she and a young LDS student she had been dating for about six weeks went to her dorm to watch a movie. Some of her roommates were camped out in the common area, watching a different film, so Nicole and her date went to her room.

Soon after the movie started, "he started getting forceful," she says. She said "no" multiple times. He kept going, and raped her.

Nicole dumped him and told him never to talk to her again.

She didn't tell anyone about it, she says, sure they would view it as her fault "because I let him in my room, or I didn't punch him after the fifth time I said no."

Getting kicked out of BYU didn't seem likely, she thought, but she could lose her housing — and then everyone would know that something had happened. It could jeopardize her relationships with everyone in her life, she felt, including her family. So she stayed silent, falling into depression.

A year later, she talked with a woman who dated the man after Nicole did. The same thing had happened to her.

"I felt bad because I never said anything," Nicole says.

Nicole, who asked to be identified by her middle name, has since served a Mormon mission. She confided in her mission president who helped her realize, she says, that what happened that night wasn't her fault.

But she still doesn't think she'll tell anyone. Her family has been following news reports of sexual assault at BYU, and her mother recently asked if anything had ever happened to her while she attended.

"I lied to her and said no," Nicole says. "If I were to tell the truth, who knows what would happen or how she'd react? I'd rather just move on."

'The last thing in my mind'

A young convert to the LDS Church, Jennifer went to BYU in the 1990s looking for a fresh start. She had been sexually assaulted as a child and thought that BYU would be a "super-safe place — a great, wholesome environment."

But, she says, she was assaulted twice by Mormon men she was dating while attending the school. She only told close friends.

The first man, she says she recognizes now, used emotional manipulation to try to push her into sexual encounters, telling her she never would "get anyone else." She broke off contact with the student after he "sabotaged" arrangements on a group trip, she says, leaving her in a room alone instead of sharing with another woman. He acquired a room key, let himself into her room and attacked her.

Two years later, during her junior year, she arrived home with a young man — not a BYU student — she had been dating for several weeks to find her roommate making out on the living room couch with her boyfriend. Though inviting someone of the opposite sex into a bedroom is against BYU's Honor Code, Jennifer felt uncomfortable in the common area, so she and her date went into her bedroom.

As soon as she closed the door, he pinned her to the bed, saying, "I've been waiting so long for this moment," she recalls, and tried to rape her, kissing her and pulling off her clothes while she struggled and cried.

"It was the ultimate betrayal," she says.

After that attack, she decided to go on a Mormon mission, hoping it would change her life. She also had a deep-seated fear of getting in trouble with the Honor Code Office, she says, and reasoned that if BYU did find out, her being on a mission might "exonerate" her.

"The last thing in my mind was, 'I wonder if I need to get help?' " she recalls.

While she was at the Missionary Training Center near BYU, she "cracked" and told a local church leader what had happened, preparing for him to send her home for being unworthy.

"You've been assaulted," he said, and told her the Lord would help heal her wounds.

That approach reflects church policy, described by LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins. "A victim of assault or abuse has not in any way had their virtue or value taken from them," he said in a statement. "Victims should be reminded that God loves them and they are not responsible for the actions of another person, nor do the actions of another person, particularly in cases of sexual assault and abuse, impact their virtue and value."

Jennifer, who asked to be identified by her first name, served a full mission and mailed a letter to her ex-boyfriend from the field.

"Attempted rape is a crime," she wrote. "And what you did to me is a crime."

'We talk about it a lot'

Jennifer returned to BYU after her mission and still struggled with feelings of low self-worth. As graduation neared, she started dating a man seriously, but kept recalling metaphors about impure women — dirty laundry, used-up gum — that she had absorbed from the Christian faith of her childhood and later as a Mormon.

She felt she owed it to her boyfriend to explain her history — and why he wouldn't want to marry her.

He still did. He also wanted her to try counseling.

They now have three boys and are rearing them with tools that Jennifer and her husband hope will prevent them from becoming perpetrators or victims of sexual violence. They started teaching their sons at a young age about aspects of healthy sexuality so that the knowledge will be ingrained by the time they need it, Jennifer says. Especially now that her oldest sons are teenagers, "We talk about it a lot."

Her examples: The way a girl dresses doesn't have anything to do with her interest in sexual activities. A girl who flirts with you doesn't necessarily want to make out with you — she might just want to get to know you. Never assume that someone else is comfortable with what you're doing.

Anne says her experience also has shaped her parenting. She has made sure her daughters — soon preparing for college — learn from her mistake of "being so naive" to believe that all Mormons could be trusted implicitly, and that BYU, or Utah in general, was a place where violent crimes didn't happen.

"You need to always be careful; you don't trust anybody, even if it's a relative," she tells them. "Even if it's the missionaries."

Hawkins concurs. "A person should never automatically put their safety in someone else's hands simply because that person is — or claims to be — a member of an organization that they respect. That includes the church."

And he says there is "significant value" in parents pairing abstinence teachings with frank sexual assault lessons.

"We believe that parents (and where appropriate, youth leaders) need to have open, repeated discussions with their children about these important topics, including what constitutes abuse and in whom they can confide if they have questions or feel they have been abused."

Valentine says she's glad that the spotlight is on college campuses, including BYU, for how they handle sexual assaults. "I'm very positive that improvements will be made across the country, and at BYU," she says.

BYU's panel examining possible reforms meets a couple of hours a week in person, Valentine says, and members exchange calls and emails daily. "This is a pretty intense effort right now."

As preventing sexual assault becomes "more of a public, community discussion," she says, "it will follow that more victims will come forward. We're going to see a big rise in reported rapes, which is a good thing. If they report more, there will be increased prosecution. The overall effect will be a decrease in rapes."

Anne hopes that the conversation will help create a more accurate understanding of reality — that no place is wholly safe, and bad things do happen to good people.

"It needs to be out there," she says. "I feel like everybody's sheltered."

Students: BYU Honor Code leaves LGBT victims of sexual assault vulnerable and alone

Students: BYU Honor Code leaves LGBT victims of sexual assault vulnerable and alone

By Erin Alberty, Originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune on August 16, 2016

Andy was a 17-year-old freshman at Brigham Young University in 2012 when, he said, he was raped by a 25-year-old man he was dating. Andy, who asked to be identified by his first name, said he later attempted suicide, struggling with being gay in a faith and school that forbids same-sex relationships. When he disclosed the alleged assault to BYU officials and his Mormon bishop, he said, he was punished by the school. Under Utah law, a 17-year-old cannot legally consent to sex with a partner who is eight years older.

Andy wanted a blessing.

He had awoken in a haze after a suicide attempt with painkillers and began to panic. He didn't want to die. But he didn't know if he could live. Andy's first, secret boyfriend had raped him and dumped him, he said. Simultaneously traumatized by and lonesome for the one person who accepted him as a gay man, Andy floundered for months in shame and dread until he finally turned to the bishop of his Mormon student congregation at Brigham Young University.

He expected some reproof for acting on his "same-gender attraction," as LDS leaders have termed being gay. But Andy also hoped for some comfort and counsel.

Instead, he said, his bishop offered an ultimatum: Andy could turn himself in to BYU's Honor Code Office to be disciplined by the school, or the bishop himself would report Andy for the violation of "homosexual behavior."

While multiple current and former students have told The Salt Lake Tribune that rape victims at BYU may be investigated for potential discipline, a half-dozen LGBT students described unique challenges they faced when they were assaulted while attending the flagship school of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

BYU's Honor Code forbids homosexual behavior, which the school defines as "not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings." Holding hands and kissing, while allowed between men and women, are widely understood to be subject to discipline; BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the language of the Honor Code "speaks for itself and relies on students to use good judgment."

But advocates for LGBT students say coming out brings such scrutiny that even people who have no intention of dating tend to seek support in secret, often online.

That has created an underground social scene in which predators can take advantage of silent and largely inexperienced victims, according to several LGBT students who have told The Tribune they were raped while enrolled at BYU. LGBT students who are assaulted by a member of the opposite sex say they fear their orientation remains a liability should they try to report the crime.

These student accounts come as BYU faces new scrutiny on two fronts: Federal officials this month added BYU to a list of more than 200 schools under investigation nationwide for how they respond to student reports of sexual assault. Meanwhile, more than 20 LGBT advocacy groups have asked leaders of the Big 12 athletic conference to eliminate BYU from consideration for membership, alleging the school "actively and openly discriminates against its LGBT students and staff."

An advisory council created by BYU in May is studying the school's handling of sexual-assault reports.

"Both the church and BYU care deeply about the safety and well-being of these young people," LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a written statement. "There's absolutely no excuse for anyone who would prey upon a student in this way, and sexual predators are neither enabled nor excused by the policies [described]."

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students say confidential support can be hard to come by in the aftermath of an assault. There is no official school group or office for LGBT resources; the student-led support group, Understanding Same Gender Attraction, is not sanctioned by the school and is not allowed to reserve meeting space on campus, Carri Jenkins confirmed.

Although she said the school's counseling center offers services to LGBT students and Hawkins directed students to LDS Family Services counselors or bishops, some students said the risks of disclosure are too high.

"You can't talk to anybody about it," said J.P., a former student who recounted being raped in 2011. "I felt hand-tied. I wasn't able to seek help from anybody. As a gay person [at BYU], that wasn't even an option, because the moment you tell the situation you're in, you're busted. There's no protection."

The Tribune typically does not publish the names of victims in sex crimes; the sources in this story agreed to be identified by their initials or first names.

'What happened was going to cost me'

Andy was a 17-year-old BYU freshman when he got involved in a relationship that he describes as coercive. It also was unlawful under Utah law, based on his age: The man, whom Andy met online, was 25.

They had met a few times in winter 2012, and while the physical relationship was moving faster than Andy wanted, he said he wasn't sure what to do about it. Then, in the basement of his boyfriend's South Jordan home, Andy discovered the extent of the man's disregard for boundaries.

"I can remember being on his bed with my clothes off," Andy said. "I can remember not necessarily screaming, but forcefully saying to stop. But he wouldn't."

Andy said he did not realize that he had been raped, believing at the time that "guys don't get raped."

He said had come out to his parents, who told him they would not tolerate homosexuality in the family.

"I felt trapped," Andy said. "I felt like the only way I could continue living was to stay with [the rapist] because he was the only one who was supportive."

After they broke up, Andy said, he saw only terrible options: He could suppress his sexuality and be condemned to loneliness and deception — or he could be gay and suffer rape and abuse.

A third option — not to live — rose to the top of his list.

After Andy awoke from his suicide attempt, he checked himself into a hospital for a brief stay. Over the summer, he grew more depressed, Andy said, until a friend suggested he seek help from their student ward bishop, "to get counsel, get advice, get a blessing."

When the bishop instead ordered him to "repent" to the Honor Code Office, Andy said, his depression gave way to panic. "It was real that what had happened was going to cost me my education and my job," Andy said.

The Honor Code investigator, or counselor, asked extensive questions, Andy said. "He wanted to know exactly what kind of sex had occurred, the dates of when it had occurred, where it had occurred. ... He was taking notes furiously as I was telling my story."

BYU initially said it could not locate records of a case like Andy's. After The Tribune confirmed it had obtained disciplinary records and provided more details, Carri Jenkins said she could not provide more information without a written release from the student. If a similar report was made by a minor student today, she said, the case would be referred to police and the Title IX office, which investigates sex crimes, and any Honor Code investigation would be suspended.

Although Andy cannot remember whether he described the physical coercion, he said did talk about the age difference and provided dates that showed he was a minor at the time of the assault. Andy said the counselor didn't refer him to police, but he did thank Andy for reporting to the Honor Code Office.

A month later, the counselor called Andy back to the office.

"The first time he had been compassionate, and that whole facade was completely gone," Andy said. "Now it was him looking at me like the bastard at the family reunion."

Andy was put on "withheld suspension," he said. He could attend classes, but he couldn't participate in activities and lost his campus job and his housing. He received a folder of religious writings about the dangers of homosexuality and met weekly with the Honor Code counselor.

Andy said he immersed himself in his repentance.

"I got really into it, and really into church, and was convinced I was going to cure myself of my gayness — which seemed to be what the Honor Code Office wanted me to do, based on the readings they were giving me," Andy recalled. "... I wanted it to go away forever, especially after trying [a relationship] once and seeing where it got me."

The LDS Church has stated on its website that "individuals do not choose to have [same-sex] attractions." The site states: "The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is."

Andy's standing at BYU was restored after a semester — his suspension shortened from a year — and he found new peace when he served a Mormon mission. He was too busy to think about sex, and the rigorous schedule prevented much contact with other gay men.

"I felt like I had a testimony, like God had finally forgiven me for being gay, for allowing the assault to happen," Andy recalled. "I thought, 'I'll be able to marry a woman and be a member of the church.' "

When he moved back to Utah, he got a job and began dating a woman. "I felt awesome," Andy recalled. "I finally found someone. Everything was going to be OK."

But he said his girlfriend led him to the one price he could not pay: her happiness.

"I realized I didn't have a connection with her in the way that I should have a connection with her," Andy said. "I haven't dated a girl since."

Andy said he hopes to "grin and bear it" long enough to finish his degree at BYU.

'I was really scared of him'

Many LGBT students at BYU find that trying to date in secret means giving up protections that heterosexual singles take for granted, said Addison Jenkins, president of Understanding Same Gender Attraction.

Students make online connections with a higher degree of anonymity so the people behind the profiles don't risk exposure, he said. Longing for connection but facing the risk of expulsion, they meet dates in person, possibly without exchanging even basic personal details, such as ages and last names. With students encouraged to help enforce the Honor Code, LGBT students may not be able to tell friends or roommates where they're going or who they'll be with, he said.

Predators know all of this, Addison Jenkins said.

"It's easy to think, 'Oh, there aren't monsters out there, lurking, waiting to attack gay students,' because that seems so malicious and so predatory," he said. "But I think experience shows that, for sure, gay students at BYU are at a lot of risk."

Former BYU student A.D. doesn't know the last name of the older man who he said slipped a drug into his orange juice during a date in December.

He doesn't know where the man is now — "He said he was from out of state," A.D. recalled — and he can't remember the address of the home he crawled away from the following morning.

A.D. said he felt uncomfortable almost as soon as he stepped into the Lehi house where the man had directed him.

When the man thrust a cup in front of him, "I said, 'I don't drink alcohol.' 'Oh, it's not alcohol.' He's coming up with answers to my objections," A.D. said.

He said he sank into a fog of what he now suspects was a date-rape drug. The man grew angry when A.D. became nauseated, and then "would flip back really quickly, tell me I was beautiful and try to kiss me," A.D. said. The man had assured A.D. there was no pressure to have sex; a few hours later, when A.D. no longer could move his limbs, the man was groping him.

A.D. said he awoke the next morning unable to walk. He said he sent his GPS coordinates to his friend's phone and crawled into a window well outside the man's house while he waited to be picked up.

After the attack, A.D. said, every option looked humiliating. Disclosing the crime would mean inviting blame and scrutiny for being gay. Suffering alone felt like conceding that he deserved it.

"I felt really hopeless, really depressed. My first instinct was, 'Well, I could overdose and not have to suffer the indignity of having to put my life back together.' "

Within weeks, A.D. broke down and told a trusted teacher about the assault. She was required to report to the school's Title IX office, which, A.D. was told, would collaborate with the Honor Code Office.

After one meeting with a Title IX investigator, A.D. dropped out of BYU.

"I know that [the investigation] is open," A.D. said. "To go back to BYU, I might have to finish talking about it. ... I'd also have to talk to the Honor Code Office, and I wasn't going to survive that."

Addison Jenkins said he has heard similar accounts from LGBT students who turned to the internet for friendship and support as they struggled with their sexuality.

"They just wanted someone to talk to," he said, "and they end up at this person's house or this person's car, and they get taken advantage of."

'Who I was was going to make my story suspect'

Aubree, a current BYU student, said she also feared an Honor Code investigation into her 2012 sexual assault by a man, worried that Honor Code enforcers would view it in a suspicious light because she is bisexual.

Aubree said she had confided in her visiting teachers — companions assigned to check on the spiritual and physical welfare of women within Mormon congregations — that she was attracted to women.

"I'm crying and begging them not to tell anybody. The next thing I know, they've told the bishop, who told his counselors, and they told their people, and everybody knows," Aubree said. "Having been outed at 19 years old, I went from being the person who never kissed anyone, never wore a tank top, never had a Coke, to being called into the bishop's office and being compared to a drug addict, a kleptomaniac and a person with anger issues."

The LDS Church's official position, Hawkins said, is "that it is not attraction or sexual preference, but behavior, that is morally destructive. This same principle applies to anyone — gay, straight, bisexual or otherwise."

Aubree said that, in practice, gay and straight attractions are not treated the same at BYU. On the day she was attacked, her roommates decided they were going to have "an anti-homosexuality scripture study night, where they basically went through the Bible and pulled up any anti-gay sentence they could find."

Aubree said she went outside, waiting for the Bible study to end. A man she knew from her ward, or congregation, found her in tears.

"I told him why I was upset ... and that I had just come out as bisexual," Aubree said. "He was the first person I'd ever talked to who didn't care. He didn't tell me I was sinful. He didn't ask me when I was going to get that fixed. ... So when he said, 'Hey, do you want to come to my place instead of going home?' I agreed."

Brigham Young University student Aubree said in 2012 she confided to members of her Mormon congregation that she was bisexual, and the information eventually reached her roommates. She said after a male acquaintance sexually assaulted her, she decided not to report the assault to school or police. Aubree, who asked to be identified by her first name, felt she would face a stereotype that bisexual people “just want to have sex with everyone” and would not be able to convince authorities she did not consent to the sexual contact.

The man invited her to watch a movie in his bedroom, which is forbidden under the Honor Code.

"That made me a little uncomfortable, but I didn't see anywhere else that a TV was, and I was like, 'It's fine, we're just going to watch a movie.' "

As soon as they sat down, Aubree said, the man started kissing her. When she told him to stop, he initially was apologetic. But she said he kept making advances. He pushed her on the bed, grabbing her and molesting her as she repeatedly told him no, she said.

"At one point, he said, 'What, you don't like this? Wow, I guess you really must be gay then,' " Aubree said. "And then he kept going. It was almost this idea ... that I was somehow defective. It didn't matter whether or not I was consenting."

Aubree eventually stopped fighting because "he kept getting more and more frustrated and more and more rough," she said. "I decided the best thing would be to let him do whatever he was going to do. Hopefully, he would take me home and I could just forget about it."

Aubree said she confided in two people about the assault; both dismissed it as typical male behavior. Meanwhile, she said, she didn't think she could report to police or the school because any investigator would soon discover she was bisexual — and then she would have a hard time convincing them the sexual contact was not consensual.

"There's a stereotype that bisexual people just want sex with everyone," Aubree said. "... My concern was that who I was was going to make my story suspect."

'I want to be free'

Instead of reporting, Aubree said, she struggled alone.

"I had a really hard time focusing on anything because I would be in the library doing my homework, and all of a sudden I would smell him," she said. "I kept having to look around and make sure he wasn't right behind me. I couldn't sleep for a long time because every time I lay down to sleep at night, I could feel him on top of me."

She said she felt shame, fearing she was "not pure anymore." More than a year later, when she began having fantasies of killing herself, Aubree said a doctor first used the word "assault" to describe what happened to her.

"Part of me thinks if I'd said it differently, people would have believed it actually happened," Aubree said. "I [wasn't] using the word 'rape.' I think it would be a lot more helpful if people had the vocabulary to say, 'OK, I was sexually assaulted.' "

Aubree remains a BYU student. She said she hopes the school will offer Honor Code amnesty for sexual-assault victims — the demand made by more than 100,000 people who signed an online petition this spring.

For A.D., leaving BYU led him to support systems he said he couldn't have imagined in Provo. He transferred to a new school and got a job at an LGBT-friendly employer in Salt Lake City. When he told his co-workers he was gay, "a group of like 30 people were clapping for me, and happy for me, which obviously made me cry."

A.D. said he eventually opened up to his new boss about his assault and found validation; she also had been sexually assaulted.

Andy, also still attending BYU, said networking with other student rape victims was a turning point in his recovery. He joined a support group and has tried to become more involved in rape awareness on campus and among gay victims. He said he can see in their eyes a familiar fear — that "you're baggage that no one is ever going to want" — but he believes that is not the end of the story.

"I want to be happy," Andy said. "To be in power. To be free."

Honor Code amnesty is just one part of BYU’s 23 steps for addressing sexual assault

Honor Code amnesty is just one part of BYU’s 23 steps for addressing sexual assault

By Jessica Miller, Matthew Piper and Erin Alberty, Originally published by The Salt Lake Tribune on October 16, 2016

Brigham Young University announced sweeping changes Wednesday in how it will respond to students who report sexual assault, saying it will restructure the school's Title IX Office and grant amnesty to victims who disclose Honor Code violations.

The scope of the changes came as a relief to students and others who had argued that victims were silenced and harmed by the school's approach — which they felt emphasized investigating whether a victim was telling the truth or had broken school rules before an assault, rather than offering support.

University officials said they will follow 23 recommendations from an internal advisory council, which addressed similar criticisms and called for changes in what victims experience when they report to the school.

No staff from the Honor Code Office, which investigates student conduct, will be located in the same office as Title IX workers, who provide services to victims of sexual violence. Creating a new physical space to separate the offices is one of five recommendations being adopted immediately.

Title IX staff will be charged with ensuring that information they receive from alleged victims will not be shared with the Honor Code Office without their consent. And students who report sexual assaults will no longer face having their conduct at the time questioned for possible Honor Code violations.

Scrutiny of BYU's policies began in April, when then-student Madi Barney spoke out at a campus rape awareness conference about how Title IX personnel treated students who reported sexual assaults. She later launched an online petition for the university to adopt an amnesty policy and allow victims of sexual assault to report crimes without fear of school discipline.

"I am very happy with the results of the study, and I'm even happier that BYU has agreed to implement all 23 of the study's recommendations," Barney said Wednesday. "I am encouraged that BYU has said that these policies are living, growing and ongoing. I want BYU, and the community, to continue to look for ways we can help and support survivors."

Brigham Young University’s Academic Vice President, Brent Webb, left, accepts a petition with 60,000 signatures that criticized the school’s treatment of sexual-assault victims. Then-student Madi Barney, not pictured, started the petition to call for an Honor Code amnesty provision. The petition was eventually signed by more than 117,000. 

Kelsey Bourgeois, who organized an April demonstration to deliver Barney's petition to campus administrators and has said she was raped while attending BYU, said she was "thrilled" by the changes.

"I even cried a little bit," she said. "I was so happy."

More than 50 people have told The Salt Lake Tribune they were sexually assaulted while attending BYU. A majority said they did not report the assaults, most of them citing fears that they would be disciplined for Honor Code violations. In several cases, students said their assailants explicitly raised the threat of school discipline to prevent reports.

A dozen current and former students interviewed by The Tribune said they were investigated for Honor Code violations in connection with sexual abuses against them. Students said school officials probed their conduct, reviewing curfew violations, what they were wearing, and even their communications with others about the Honor Code process — although the students had said they had not consented to sex.

The Honor Code at BYU, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, forbids alcohol and coffee, restricts contact between male and female students, imposes a strict dress code, and bans expressions of romantic affection between people of the same gender.

BYU said in a statement that a new amnesty clause will not become policy until it is reviewed by the Student, Faculty and Administrative Advisory Councils, but the university will start giving that protection to victims now.

President Kevin Worthen announced the changes in an email sent to students, staff and faculty Wednesday morning, saying victims of sexual assault "have been through a devastating experience, and they are looking for our help and support. We have an obligation not only to provide that support, both emotionally and spiritually, but also to create an environment where sexual assault is eliminated.

"We do not have all the answers to this problem, which is a nationwide issue affecting all colleges and universities," Worthen wrote. "But this report provides an excellent framework on which to build."

'Lack of sensitivity'

The advisory council, formed by BYU in May, outlined a number of problems it uncovered during its months of research, many stemming from overlap in the Honor Code and Title IX offices.

There is confusion about how to report a sexual assault, whom to report to and what resources are offered on campus, students told the council.

Until 2013, Title IX personnel were housed within the Honor Code Office. Today, the Title IX coordinator's office is next to the associate dean who oversees Honor Code investigations, with a Title IX investigator housed in the same suite.

The two offices also use the same tracking system for casework, and though a "firewall" was created to separate the investigations, "some Honor Code cases were mislabeled as Title IX cases," the group found.

In recent years, as the role of Title IX has grown at BYU, employees from departments such as athletics and the university police were working in the Title IX Office, as well as in their original positions. And Honor Code Office staff had been asked to investigate Title IX reports as well as Honor Code cases.

The report acknowledges that some employees may have brought "biases, attitudes ... and assumptions" to Title IX duties that may have resulted in a "lack of sensitivity" when looking into sexual assault reports.

At the April forum on rape awareness where Barney spoke out, then-Title IX coordinator Sarah Westerberg said her office would "not apologize" for addressing Honor Code violations, even though she acknowledged a "chilling" effect on sex crime reporting, according to several students who attended the event.

Student Life Vice President Janet Scharman, a member of the study group, said Westerberg will no longer be the Title IX coordinator. Instead, she will continue to serve as associate dean of students, while a new full-time coordinator will oversee the Title IX Office.

Two current full-time Title IX investigators will continue in their roles, Scharman said.

The advisory council recommends that the school "make it as clear as we possibly can that if there has been a sexual assault, that the place to go is to report it to the Title IX Office."

Council member Julie Valentine, a BYU nursing professor whose research focuses on sexual assault, said the group found that while some victims reported that their ecclesiastical leaders — upon whom Mormon students rely for an endorsement to remain enrolled — had been among the most helpful, "we also heard the opposite." Victims reported the same inconsistencies from law enforcement, prosecutors and other segments of society, she noted.

"We need to have these discussions at all levels of society and all levels of our church," she said.

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins wrote in an email: "We haven't yet received those findings, but look forward to doing so. Information of this nature has been helpful in the past to inform training for local leaders."

Dueling priorities

Splitting up the Honor Code and Title IX Offices, adopting an amnesty policy and adding an on-campus victim advocate — another recommendation being implemented immediately — will be huge benefits to students, said Kortney Hughes, victims' services program coordinator for the Provo Police Department.

"We knew they would do the right thing, that there would be positive changes," Hughes said. "But this is outstanding … I really think this is a step in the right direction, and it will start earning that trust back from students and the victims."

Former Brigham Young University student Madeline MacDonald joined Madi Barney and other students in criticizing BYU’s approach to students who report sexual assaults. Now a student at the University of Utah, MacDonald said she was “encouraged” by BYU’s October announcement of reforms. 

Madeline MacDonald, a former student who said she was investigated by the Honor Code Office after she reported sexual violence, said she was "really encouraged" by the recommendations, including the amnesty clause. But the admission that information was shared between the Title IX and Honor Code offices was alarming, she said.

MacDonald also said she was concerned that the report did not suggest new training or guidelines for bishops who may work with BYU students. The report recommends only that the council's findings "regarding ecclesiastical leaders' varied responses to sexual-assault reports" be shared with the LDS Church.

"The fact that bishops have complete [control over an endorsement], it should be under university control in some way," she said. "Either stop bishops from doing this or give them all intense training."

Barney also said there's still work to be done.

"I want there to be a system in place to make sure that the policies are properly implemented," she said. "And that there is a way for students who are going through the Title IX process to complain, if they feel they need to."

The council's recommendations reflect current best practices in the higher education community, according to S. Daniel Carter, a board member for SurvJustice, which provides legal assistance to victims of sexual violence.

"These are the types of things that institutions across the country, over the last four or five years, have been implementing," Carter said.

But BYU also has a history of investigating and punishing students who report sexual violence, Carter said. The amnesty policy, he said, "goes a very long way to mitigating the chilling effect that fear of reprisal has on survivors."

Scharman said the discussion about adopting an amnesty provision brought "the questions that I think anyone would raise here at BYU: Are we not caring about the Honor Code?"

Ultimately, she said, two factors led to what she described as unanimous support for amnesty: that many sexual assaults go unreported, and a 2002 study that found 60 percent of perpetrators are repeat offenders.

In a draft statement of an amnesty clause, the group wrote that students would not be disciplined for Honor Code violations that occurred "at or near the time of the reported sexual misconduct."

For "other Honor Code violations that are not directly related to the incident but which may be discovered as a result of the investigatory process," BYU will offer "leniency."

Bourgeois said the "leniency" language gave her some unease. BYU student JC Hamilton was likewise unsure what "leniency" means.

"It appears that there could be discipline, but they could be lighter about it," he said. "I think that could possibly be a loophole."

Still, Hamilton said, "I do feel like BYU in good faith is making it very clear that they care more about preventing sexual assault than they do about punishing prior violations."

Amnesty also would be extended to gay and lesbian students reporting sexual assaults, Scharman said.

Andy, a former student who asked to be identified by only his first name, said he felt the changes could have come sooner, but still applauded the school. He was put on "withheld suspension" for a year when he was a 17-year-old freshman, after he said his bishop instructed him to tell Honor Code enforcers about his relationship with a 25-year-old man who, Andy said, raped him while they were dating.

"I feel good that LGBT students who are victims won't be punished for having been in the LGBT situation when the assault happened," he said. "I still don't trust BYU completely. They say they're going to do this. We'll see if they actually do."

Madi Barney cheered news that Brigham Young University students who report sexual assaults no longer face potential punishment if they violated the school’s Honor Code at or near the time of the assault. “That was my goal all along,” Barney said. BYU officials announced in October that they will follow all recommendations made by a study group that reviewed how the school handles reports of sex crime. School officials had blocked Barney from enrolling in classes after she reported a sexual assault to police and refused to participate in an Honor Code investigation of her conduct at the time.

Pending investigations

The university's study is one of several investigations stemming from allegations by BYU students, particularly Barney, about how the school handled their sexual assault complaints.

Barney was a sophomore when she reported to Provo police that she had been raped. A Utah County sheriff's deputy gave her police file to school officials and told them she'd broken the Honor Code.

Prosecutors advised Barney not to cooperate with the school's investigation of her conduct while the criminal rape case was pending, and the school banned her from enrolling in future classes.

Barney also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, which in August notified BYU it was investigating how the school handled Barney's case. The Provo school is the third in Utah to be added to a list of about 200 colleges facing review under Title IX, the law that forbids sex-based discrimination at all schools that receive federal funding. The University of Utah and Westminster College, a private Salt Lake City liberal arts school, also are under investigation.

Barney's case also has spurred a state investigation into how BYU police access and share law enforcement records. Documents obtained by The Tribune appear to contradict statements by campus police that their department is separate from the Honor Code Office and does not report conduct violations to the school.

BYU's study group met during the summer with outside experts on campus rape and studied sexual assault reporting procedures at more than 80 universities. It also reviewed statements on Barney's petition and 3,200 responses on a feedback website created by the school. The group also included Ben Ogles, the dean of BYU's College of Family, Home and Social Sciences; and Sandra Rogers, the international vice president at BYU and a former dean of BYU's College of Nursing.


Tribune staffers Benjamin Wood and Rachel Piper contributed to this story.