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Indignant JDHS Alum Rallies Stanford Campus Around Rape Case

By | June 6, 2014 - 4:02 pm

Sarai Gould and Chelsea Green at a rally on the Stanford University campus raising awareness about sexual assault and supporting Leah Francis. Thursday, June 5, 2014. (Photo courtesy Sarai Gould.)

Sarai Gould and Chelsea Green at a rally on the Stanford University campus raising awareness about sexual assault and supporting Leah Francis. Thursday, June 5, 2014. (Photo courtesy Sarai Gould.)

Until this week, Leah Francis was probably best known as an Alaska distance running champ from her days at Juneau-Douglas High School.

That all changed after she went public saying she was forcibly raped by a fellow Stanford University undergraduate while in Juneau.

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Leah Francis came out as a rape survivor, and as an activist indignant over Stanford University’s in-house adjudication process.

“No one wants to do the Alternate Review Process, it’s super-traumatizing. I mean, it, it, it drags out, it’s mishandled.”

The university panel formally concluded the male student did sexually assault Francis. The decision was based on a university investigation and statements from both sides, according touniversity documents via The Stanford Daily.

The university has kept the male student’s name confidential, and Francis declined to name him; she wants to keep the focus on the bigger issues.

Like the university’s consequence for rape. The panel recommended 40 hours of community service, a sexual assault awareness education class and a five quarter suspension. That suspension wouldn’t take effect until the summer, which Francis says, is after her assailant graduates.

It’s a slap on the wrist, she says, that “invites my rapist back to campus” for grad school.

“In the end, you have a sense of futility. Like, you’ve, you’ve spent, you know, months of your life, reliving one of the worst nights of your life and you don’t get anything out of it.”

She emailed out her story on Tuesday, and has been riding the wave of support since. Thursday night, she said, “I haven’t eaten today, and haven’t slept in 48 hours.”

Earlier, Francis had led hundreds of students in a campus rally and protest to raise awareness about sexual assault and to demand reforms. They want mandatory expulsion for sexual assault, as well as better resources for victims.

Students yelled in unison for administrators to “Stand with Leah.” They plastered campus surfaces with posters and signs incorporating the #StandWithLeah hashtag, and blew it up on Twitter.

“This was awesome, I mean, today was more healing for me than anything that’s happened since I was raped.”

And, she’s gotten a lot of media attention.

“So I communicated with BuzzFeed, with Huffington Post, with the New York Times … I just can’t even keep track of them all. … L.A. Times, Palo Alto WeeklyStanford Daily.”

Francis says a criminal case is also open with the Juneau Police Department; the incident happened in Juneau early on New Year’s Day. She says she was in no condition to consent when it began — drunk and unconscious. Police could not be reached for comment by deadline.

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