“So I raped you.” Facebook message updates the fight for justice


Moorestown, NJ (AP) — Shannon Keeler enjoyed a weekend vacation with his boyfriend when he checked Facebook’s message for the first time in years. A name has appeared to stop her cold.

“So I raped you,” he said in a burst of unread messages sent six months ago.

“I will never do it to anyone.”

“I need to hear your voice.”

“I pray for you.”

The message soared Keeler, and in December 2013, a senior at Gettysburg College stalked her at a party, sneaked into the dorm, and broke into her room while she begged him and asked for help from a friend. It was. It was the last night of her first semester in college.

Eight years later, she wanted to convince Pennsylvania authorities to arrest her, and perhaps her strongest evidence, his confession, was sent via social media.

But is that enough?

Before and after the attack, Keeler followed a protocol designed to prevent sexual assault on campus or to deal with them when they occurred. She had a male friend walk her house from the party. She reported the rape that day, met the police, and endured a painful and intrusive rape test. And she sought a complaint. Still, the judiciary system failed her every time, just as most college rape victims failed.

According to victim advocates and limited criminal data available, campus rape indicted despite focusing on sexual violence in the #MeToo era and protection of students under Title IX Almost none.only 1 in 5 Victims of college sexual assault will call the police. And when doing so, prosecutors often hesitate to take cases where the victim was drinking or knew the accused.

“It’s been annoying me for years that I couldn’t do anything,” said Keeler, now 26. Because I have proof. “

In Gettysburg, a small school with about 2,500 students, 95 rapes were reported to campus security between 2013 and 2019, during which school data and county court records show. Only 10 non-child rape cases were prosecuted throughout the county.

And it discourages students like Katayoun Amir-Aslani, who quietly left Gettysburg after her own sexual assault in the spring of 2014.

She met Keeler the night she was beaten. A few months later, she said she was raped in Gettysburg by an acquaintance.

She did not submit a report. She didn’t get the rape kit. Instead, she quietly left school after that spring.

“I had no witnesses, and nothing happened to her after I experienced with Shannon, I just (thought),” Well, I free all of this What’s the point of experiencing at? ”A 26-year-old New Yorker. “So I really just didn’t tell anyone.”

For Keeler, the suspect’s withdrawal from school ended the investigation of Campus Title IX. Two years later, shortly after the window for filing a civil suit was closed, then district attorney Scott Wagner said he had no intention of prosecuting.

Keeler recalls that he said it would be difficult to file a proceeding if alcohol was involved.

Wagner, now a county judge, declined to speak to the Associated Press. His successor, district attorney Brian Sinette, will not discuss the details of Mr. Keeler’s case, but said he would not be prosecuted unless the case met the high standards required for conviction.

“You need to look at the evidence you have: whether it conforms to the statute of limitations, can it be substantiated, what is the chance of success in court? All of them Things, “he said

Adams County officials have revisited Keeler’s case since Keeler hired a lawyer and posted a Facebook message last June. The 12-year statute of limitations has not been implemented.

According to records obtained by Keeler, the suspect was identified by others at the party and left Gettysburg, but denied cheating by email to school officials. She said his withdrawal ended the school’s Title IX investigation.

The Associated Press, which attempted to contact a 28-year-old man through phone numbers and emails linked to him and his parents, and through social media, did not identify him because he was not charged. No AP message was returned. Based on his online profile, he seems to have graduated from college at another school.

Keeler learned from a new detective last year that the rape kit was destroyed after the case was first closed. Her lawyer, Washington-based Laura Dern, said that “it doesn’t make sense” often happens even before the statute of limitations comes into force. Pennsylvania law currently prohibits that practice.

Keeler stayed in Gettysburg and ended her time at her 4th grade Division III National Championship. She considered it the “ultimate victory” over the attackers.

Still, there were breakdowns, treatments, heavy drinking for some time, and setbacks.

“I haven’t been my best version for a few years,” said Keeler, who has a happy relationship with his longtime boyfriend and the work he enjoys selling software. “My anger was more directed at the criminal justice system than what actually happened.”


AP national writer Allen G. Breed contributed to this report from Gettysburg, PA. Follow Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale.