PORTLAND: The Executive Director for the Sexual Assault Resource Center in Portland is livid over a prosecutor’s decision not to prosecute three University of Oregon basketball players for rape.
“If we continue to respond to survivors like this, we're going to watch the reporting rate just continue to tank,” said Erin Ellis one of Oregon’s leading advocates for survivors of sexual abuse.
Ellis feels the Eugene Police Department did not do a good job investigating the allegations.
“We consistently send a message to victims of sexual assault that this is not our number one priority. We are not going to do everything we can to catch these guys that are committing such heinous crimes," said Ellis.
She's read the police report and is critical of officers for not collecting evidence like bed sheets until a week after the incident was reported. And that police asked the victim to secretly tape calls with the players, then left her by herself to do it.
“Outraged! Absolutely outraged!” she said.
Ellis has worked with survivors for 22 years. She says there’s an easy explanation for the question why didn’t the woman run away if she wanted the abuse to stop. She says victims are afraid and worry about what everyone will say.
“I'm just gonna stay here,” said Ellis, speaking about a survivor’s state of mind. “Do what I need to do and when it’s fully over, I'll leave. But there's a high level of fear that’s still going on even if there’s no weapon present,” Ellis said.
It’s not unusual to stay with the abuser, she said, even to stay the next day.
“We see that. We see that. Then, as we're moving from fight or flight to coping and normalizing, survivors start to question what has happened. How am I going to be held responsible for this? I know I’m doing what I need to do but how are all the other parties going to judge me?" said Ellis.
She's critical of police.
“I think it’s the easy way out. I think every time a ‘he said, she said’ scenario comes across their desk it’s easier to look at how non-credible the victim is than trying to bust open the credibility of a perpetrator. That's much more work," Ellis said.
She’s also critical of the Lane County District Attorney’s statement of why he is not prosecuting the U of O basketball players.
“This is victim blaming, through and through. Every one of the explanations as to why the DA's office chose not to file on this case has victim blaming attached to every one of those line items,” she said.