The face of sexual assault at IUP

A Civic Project story

Former IUP student Jillian Lee Fanty, October 2014. Photo by Jillian Fanty. (Image pixelated at Fanty’s request.)

Former IUP student Jillian Lee Fanty, October 2014. Photo by Jillian Fanty. (Image pixelated at Fanty’s request.)

By Evan Sakowicz

INDIANA – Jillian Lee Fanty was 21 and a senior criminology major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a double minor in women’s studies and psychology when she guzzled green beer with a friend and his companions during the rowdy March 2014 IUPatty’s party weekend.

One of the companions was a Homer City man who was visiting the campus to party with some friends from Pittsburgh. The man was staying with Fanty’s friend. And he was making advances at her throughout the night, Fanty said.

After drinking more than she was used to, Fanty said she and the group migrated to her friend’s Philadelphia Square apartment on South Seventh Street. Fanty’s friend said she could stay in his spare bedroom for the night.

As Fanty was falling asleep, the man who had made advances earlier that day walked into the room and crawled into bed with her, Fanty said. He started kissing her and removed her undergarments. He penetrated her for a few minutes before falling asleep beside her.

“I don’t even know if I was fully cognizant of what was happening,” Fanty, of Trafford, Pa., said during a Nov. 18 email interview from her new home in Northern California.

 Fanty said she did not know that she had been raped. She was upset, she said, but she never thought it was a sexual assault and didn’t report it to authorities.

On that, Fanty has a lot of company. Only 12 percent of college-student victims report sexual assaults to authorities, according to a 2007 survey cited in a January 2014 report issued by the White House Council on Women and Girls.

“I guess I thought that’s just what happens in college,” Fanty said. “That if you’re drunk and with guys, it’s just what’ll probably happen.”

Fanty graduated from IUP in 2015 and now works in retail in the Bay area. The Homer City man she identified as her assailant did not respond to attempts to contact him on Facebook. She is the only known survivor of an alleged IUP-related sexual assault to speak out publicly using her own name.


DURING the fall 2015 semester, six alleged sexual assaults involving IUP students were reported in The Indiana Gazette. A chronology shows that five occurred in the first two weeks of the term. None of the victims has been identified by authorities.

Indiana borough police Chief William C. Sutton said the university experienced more sexual assaults in the fall ’15 term than in previous semesters since he took the job in 2001.

“We had an influx of sexual crimes,” Sutton said during an Oct. 16 classroom discussion in IUP’s Davis Hall. “It’s very disturbing.”

Two IUP psychology professors said the disturbing trend may reflect broader cultural factors.

Cristina L. Reitz-Krueger is an IUP assistant professor of psychology who studies community psychology, sexual assault, adolescent sexual health and community-academic partnerships. Reitz-Krueger said rape myths contribute to misunderstandings.

IUP psychology professor Cristina L. Reitz-Krueger, Uhler Hall, Nov. 9, 2015. Photo by Evan Sakowicz

IUP psychology professor Cristina L. Reitz-Krueger, Uhler Hall, Nov. 9, 2015. Photo by Evan Sakowicz

“The majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone who knows the victim,” Reitz-Krueger said in a Nov. 9 interview in her Uhler Hall office. “You’re much more likely to be raped by a date than by a stranger jumping out of the bushes at night.”

Rape myths blame the victim instead of the perpetrator, Reitz-Krueger said. And society tends to avoid addressing social and cultural factors that contribute to rape.

“There are also differing social norms within smaller groups, like fraternities or sports teams,” she said. “Some of these groups may hold attitudes that make it more socially acceptable to either rape someone or to ignore when this is going on.”


MAUREEN C. McHugh, an IUP professor of psychology with research interests that include intimate partner violence, sexism and street harassment, said in some cases, male perpetrators of rape feel they have a right.

“They understand themselves as sexual beings who have a privilege and a right to have their needs met,” she said in a Nov. 15 interview in her Murrysville home.

McHugh said some perpetrators view persistence and coercion as a positive path to sexual interaction and do not care about the woman’s experience.

“Young men who focus on their own sexual wants see interactions with women as a game where they want to win,” she said.

McHugh said some men feel dominant and lack empathy for women. These men feel that women exist to fulfill their sexual needs. And they do not care about the pain that victims feel.

“They may believe that women enjoy forced penetration,” she said.

McHugh said these men contribute to rape myths.

“I think that’s a general part about our culture,” she said. “I think in some of the more extreme cases, in addition to being dominant, I think they might have elements of hostility toward women.”

McHugh said that hostility and physical force are not needed to be considered rape. Intoxicated, unconscious and sleeping women cannot consent to sex.

McHugh said educating men about rape myths can help them understand what rape is and why it is wrong.

“We could try to teach young men and older men different ways to think of themselves as sexual beings,” she said.


FANTY SAID a new boyfriend helped her to acknowledge and accept what happened and to heal herself after the incident.

“My current long-term boyfriend has helped me heal so much and has never blamed or questioned me,” she said.

Fanty said she hopes her story will help women who have had similar experiences.

“I don’t want them to be afraid to tell the truth,” she said. “And I want them to be able to heal, too.”

Evan Sakowicz, a senior majoring in journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is from Murrysville.


Sidebar: How this story was reported

INDIANA — In fall 2014, Jillian Lee Fanty agreed to an interview with a reporter for The HawkEye to discuss what she described as her rape during the IUPatty’s party weekend in March 2014.

The Indiana University of Pennsylvania senior criminology major, age 21 at the time, said her attacker was a Homer City man she had met on a day when rowdy events on South Seventh Street made headlines. Later that night, Fanty said, the man raped her in a bedroom of a luxury South Seventh Street apartment rented by a friend.

Six months later, when Fanty agreed to talk to the reporter, she discussed terms of how she would be identified in the published story. She said she wanted to be identified by her name, and she was willing to be photographed. But she said she wanted her photo pixelated, to mask her face but to lend veracity to her story.

The HawkEye agreed. But the story was not published.

Her alleged attacker, whom she identified by name, did not respond to efforts to contact him through a Facebook account and by phone.

One year later, another reporter for The HawkEye proposed a story about an early-fall 2015 rash of reported sexual assaults involving IUP students. None of the survivors of the fall assaults were identified by police or campus authorities or by news media. One, reached through a friend, declined to be interviewed.

In an effort to put a human face on the issue, the reporter, Evan Sakowicz, contacted Fanty. She had graduated from IUP and moved to Northern California. She again agreed to an interview and to the original terms for her published photo.

That interview and the earlier reporting in fall 2014 formed the basis of this story.

The HawkEye staff


Sidebar: Reorganized IUP services for sex-assault survivors

INDIANA — Indiana University of Pennsylvania offers various services to deter sexual assault and to counsel survivors. The status of one established project is in doubt.

IUP’s Office of Social Equity provides victims of sexual assault with resources such as a Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment Survivor Support Handout, a Title IX Reporting Flow Chart and an Assault Victim Bill of Rights.

IUP’s University Police provides escort services to students and the RAD Program (Rape Aggression Defense Systems), which the website in late December 2015 reported was not available.

The Haven Project, in collaboration with University Police, the Pennsylvania State Police, Indiana Borough Police, the Alice Paul House and the Counseling Center, provides counseling and education about rape.

In August, the administration announced reorganization of the Haven Project. The project was founded at IUP in 2002 by Malinda Levis.

In an Oct. 6 news release, the university also announced the retirement of Levis after 27 years of service. Levis has declined comment.

In 2010 Levis cited her own survey research showing that nearly one in five IUP female students – about 1,500 of roughly 8,000 women – reported being assaulted in 2008. Levis’ findings contradicted IUP documents that reported declining numbers of sexual assaults in preceding years.

Maureen C. McHugh, an IUP psychology professor and founder of IUP’s Women’s Studies Program, is familiar with the Haven Project and said Rhonda Luckey, vice president of student affairs at IUP, reorganized the Haven Project and altered its services.

“In that reorganization, there was disruption in programs designed to help victims,” McHugh said.

McHugh said the reorganization left the Haven Project without anyone in charge.

“Haven, which was a group of students who were doing campus rape education programs, were left with no one managing those programs,” she said.

by Evan Sakowicz, with additional reporting by Amanda Peterson


Sidebar: For more information/To get involved

For more information about this story, or to get involved in the issues reported here, contact the following sources:

Indiana Borough Police Department
William C. Sutton
80 North Eighth St.
Indiana, Pa. 15701
Phone: 724 349-2121

University Police
Kevin Thelen
Director of Public Safety and University Police
University Towers
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
850 Maple St.
Indiana, Pa. 15705
Phone: 724 357-2104

Office of Social Equity
Pablo Mendoza, Ph.D.
Assistant to the President of Social Equity
B17 Susan S. Delaney Hall
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
920 Grant Street
Indiana, Pa. 15705
Phone: 724 357-3402

IUP Counseling Center
Karen Lemasters,
Office manager
Suites on Maple East, G31
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
901 Maple St.
Indiana, Pa. 15705
Phone: 724 357-2621

Alice Paul House
Indiana, Pa. 15701
Phone: 724 349-4444


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