UNC football player set to be arraigned on sexual battery charge


Allen Artis.

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A linebacker at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is expected to be arraigned Thursday on two misdemeanor sexual battery and assault charges.

Allen Artis is accused of raping fellow student Delaney Robinson at an on-campus apartment on February 14. He also faces civil charges filed by his accuser.

Artis has denied the allegations.

“Everything was completely consensual, what happened that night. That’s the truth,” Artis told The (Raleigh) News & Observer this week. “I did not rape her.”

It’s unclear whether he will be required to show up in court Thursday or just his attorney.

‘Life has changed forever’

Robinson told the media this month she was angry over how authorities and the university handled the case.

“My life has changed forever, while the person who assaulted me remains as a student and a football player on this campus,” she said.

Artis was charged this month with sexual battery and assault on a female, both misdemeanors. His arrest warrant states he is accused of lying on top of Robinson, and pinning her down with his weight as he raped her. The warrant further accuses him of pulling Robinson’s bra strap, “causing an indentation on her shoulder/back.”

He was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond.

The allegations

Robinson said she was 18 at the time of the alleged assault at apartments on UNC’s campus. She’s 19 now.

“Yes, I was drinking that night on Valentine’s Day,” Robinson said this month, with her father and lawyer by her side. “I’m underage, and I take responsibility for that, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to violate me. I did not deserve to be raped.”

Typically, CNN does not name alleged victims of sexual assault. In this case, Robinson came out publicly.

Robinson said she went to a hospital afterward and gave an account of what she could remember to the sexual-assault nurse. She then faced what she called “demeaning and accusatory questions” from the university’s Department of Public Safety investigators.

“Did I lead him on? Have I hooked up with him before? Do I often have one-night stands? Did I even say no? What is my sexual history? How many men have I slept with? I was treated like a suspect,” she said.

An incident report from the UNC Department of Public Safety was taken just before 5:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, according to the document CNN obtained.

Robinson said her “humiliation turned to rage when I (later) listened to the recorded interviews of my rapist by DPS investigators.”

“Rather than accusing him of anything, the investigators spoke to him with a tone of camaraderie,” Robinson said. “They provided reassurances to him when he became upset. They even laughed with him when he told them how many girls’ phone numbers he had managed to get on the same night that he raped me. They told him, ‘Don’t sweat it, just keep on living your life and keep on playing football.’ ”

The investigation

In North Carolina, anyone can go before a magistrate and swear to criminal acts they assert happened against them. A magistrate then determines whether there is enough evidence to go forward. But charges that start that way can be only misdemeanors; felonies must be brought by the district attorney’s office.

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said a felony investigation is still underway.

He said it’s unusual for a court to draw misdemeanor warrants during a felony investigation. He said he can’t recall it happening during his 27 years in the office. (He’s been the district attorney for more than a decade.)

Woodall said the UNC Department of Public Safety “took investigatory steps” on August 26 and 29 and consulted with his office.

“These are very serious charges, and before we go forward we would like to have the investigation completed or close to being completed,” he said.

“There is no question that there was physical contact, but what the circumstances are surrounding the contact are what investigators are trying to determine.”

Cases such as Robinson’s are “difficult to prosecute and difficult to prove,” the district attorney said. While obtaining an arrest warrant requires only probable cause, convictions require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Woodall said his staff has worked to “refocus” investigators on achieving that standard of proof.

“UNC has been working with that standard in mind and consulting with us,” Woodall said.

Robinson’s attorney, Denise Branch, said her client has fully cooperated with the investigation.

She provided a photo purportedly taken on the night of the alleged attack showing what Branch said was bruising on Robinson’s neck.

The university’s response

UNC said it is aware of the allegations but cannot address them because of federal privacy law.

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is deeply committed to the safety and well-being of our students and takes all allegations about sexual violence or sexual misconduct extremely seriously,” it said.

As for Artis’ athletic future, UNC athletes facing misdemeanor charges are suspended from their teams. They can be reinstated if approved by the school’s athletics director, the team’s coach and other university officials.

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