Loyala University students are up in arms, and rightfully so, after learning that one of their classmates at the Chicago college had been able to study at the school for three years despite being arrested for rape back home in Atlanta.
The rape happened weeks before Benjamin Holm graduated high school in the spring of 2013, The Washington Post reports. At Loyola, Holm was majoring in finance and economics while playing for the school’s golf team. The trial for his rape didn't happen for more than three years.
Holm was 18 at the time of the crime, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. At a country club party, he was found on top of a heavily intoxicated 15-year-old at a nearby playground by the girl’s friends, who reported hearing her tell him to stop. Her friends carried her to the car and called her parents, who took her to the hospital where a rape kit was prepared. Holm allegedly admitted to having sex with her in text messages. He was arrested a few days later and bailed out of a misdemeanor charge.
His charges were upgraded to felony status in April 2015, when he'd already been at Loyola for almost two years. On Dec. 5, he decided to end his trial and take a plea deal, pleading guilty to aggravated assault and statutory rape. He's been sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by 10 years of probation. Holm's is one of the few cases where a man actually gets punished for rape, but the weird thing is that Loyola claims they didn't know a thing about this case until Dec. 12.
After the case made media headlines, where university officials refused to comment, Loyala classmates launched a Change.org petition demanding the university explain why nobody knew about the rape charges. Nearly two weeks after the guilty plea, on Dec. 16, Title IX coordinator Thomas M. Kelly released a statement, simply saying the school wasn't aware of the assault. “Violence of any kind is not tolerated at Loyola, and the safety and security of all members of our campus community remain a top priority,” Kelly said.
While the incident did indeed take place prior to Holm’s arrival at Loyala, students are arguing that universities need to keep better tabs on student athletes, especially in light of recent cases at Stanford, Baylor and the University of Minnesota, all of which call into question the fairness of Title IX investigations for both the victim and the attacker. “Students at Loyola University Chicago are disgusted by the institution's actions and do not feel safe on campus," the petition’s author, Ashley Kennedy, wrote. "The administration's silence is only making things worse.”