By Mary Claire Molloy – Special to the Bloomingtonian
A network of young women across the country, outraged over a Snapchat photo depicting what they interpret as sexual assault, helped report a suspected rape at Indiana University and delivered two IU students to swift and public judgment by their peers. Protestors gathered Thursday evening outside the dorm where at least one of the men is believed to be residing.
No one has been arrested or charged, but IUPD is investigating two male suspects in the incident, which occurred at Eigenmann Hall on Saturday evening. Deputy Chief Shannon Bunger confirmed IUPD is in possession of the photo and has spoken to the victim. IUPD has also connected a rape kit processed at IU Health Bloomington Hospital to the alleged assault, he said.
In a photo posted by one of the men, an unidentified woman lies naked on her back with her eyes closed and one arm flung out to the side. It is unclear if she is conscious. Two shirtless men kiss her chest. One appears to be touching her between her legs with his hand.
The photo was soon deleted, but not before it caught the attention of several people from one of the suspects’ hometown in California, including one of his female friends.
“It was just a bunch of pissed off girls,” said the Los Angeles-area woman, who says she has known the man since freshman year of high school. “Women should protect each other no matter the circumstance.”
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the suspect and his family, said she first tried to submit the report on her own but could not access the system without being an IU student. She reached out to a friend who attends Indiana University Northwest, who formally made the report.
Their post on social media, identifying one of the suspects and describing the incident as a “gang rape,” has been shared numerous times, reaching students across the country at IU Bloomington just hours after campus police publicly announced the rape case.
On Wednesday, a video circulated in student group chats showing IU police leading one of the two suspects, his hands restrained behind his back, from the dorm to a police vehicle. An IUPD spokesman said the student was questioned and then released. Police are also trying to get into contact with the second suspect.
Students who live with one of the suspects at Eigenmann Hall began messaging each other in the floor group chat on Wednesday evening, tracking his every move from the floor to the police car, and then alerting each other when he came back an hour later.
“Cops got him, it’s all good,” One wrote around 6:30 p.m, after the suspect was led away by police.
“He’s back,” another wrote around 7:30 p.m.
“I don’t think anyone should ever be quiet when it comes to sexual assault cases, even if the perpetrator is someone you’re friends with,” the California woman told The Bloomingtonian.
At the protest on Thursday evening, about seventy students occupied the grassy area outside of Eigenmann Hall, holding signs.
If she was “asking for it” why couldn’t you?
Public cervix announcement: Fuck you!
There was a moment of silence for 26 seconds for the college students who have experienced sexual violence.
Some looked up to the windows of Eigenmann. On one of the highest floors, the word “Why?” was spelled out in a window with green sticky notes.
No one said a word, but there was collective knowledge that a male student, a suspect in a rape case, was up there somwhere. He is on one of those floors, behind one of those windows.
The event was held by students in the Civic Leaders Center, a living learning community for freshmen interested in public policy and leadership.
After the moment of silence, they invited community members to come forward and share their stories or support for survivors.
A friend of the young woman who was involved in the alleged sexual assault at Eigennman spoke on her behalf.
“She called me to ask me to tell you all thank you for your support,” the young woman said. “For once, she doesn’t feel alone.”
Soon, a megaphone was passed around as students lined up to speak.
Survivors, both women and men, told their stories.
One woman cried as she clutched the megaphone, recounting how she wasn’t believed when she reported a sexual assault.
Another man, an ally, said he saw a poll asking women “What would you do if there were no men for 24 hours?”
“The most common answer was take a walk,” he said. “That makes me so angry.”
The protest ended with another moment of silence.
As one female friend group walked away from Eigenmann, one woman said, “Guys, we’ve gotta get better about walking each other home.”
This story will be updated.
Editor’s note: All charges are mere allegations unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.