Before we share this story, I must warn you that it is incredibly disturbing but yet incredibly important. Sexual assault is a cancer that grows in darkness and abuse must be exposed so that justice can come to fruition. This young woman experienced something unthinkable. What is more, she experienced something avoidable if it were not for the disregard and lack of compassion exhibited by Cedarville University.
Next time the administration lectures us about the importance of mental health or caring for victims of sexual assault, remember how they handled this situation and how desperate this system must be changed. Remember that Cedarville cast out one of its own and put them in a dangerous position for the sake of public perception. Remember that Cedarville sought no recourse for its wrongdoings but simply doubled down on their disregard.
This story is not shared just to show Cedarville in a bad light. It is to bring to light a deeply broken system and expose the abuse that this student faced. There must be change. It is clear what was wrong in this instance. She should never have been forced to leave. She should have been given shelter at Cedarville before the incident because she had nowhere safe to go.
After the assault occurred, she should have been given shelter because there was nowhere safe to go. She should not have been blamed for the assault she experienced. She should have been believed. Leviticus 25:35-36 holds a command to fear God by providing shelter to those in our community who are in need, a command which is reflected in New Testament teachings to care for those in need.
But fear of God was exchanged for Fear of COVID-19.
Cedarville must be held accountable for this horrific failure and must change its policies and procedures. Share your opinions on how the system should be changed in the comments or through our social media.
To the woman who shared this story, we admire your courage to express the pain you experienced and hope that even in some small way, sharing your story brings you comfort, particularly through the support of students gathering around you as it should have been two years ago. You are of immeasurable worth as a loved child of God and a member of our family.
Twenty Four Months.
Seventy Thousand Five Hundred Twenty Hours.
One Million Fifty-One Thousand Two Hundred Minutes of being a survivor.
Two years ago today, I was brutally raped. Twice.
Two weeks before my life would be branded by a vicious attack, Cedarville closed its doors to hide from the pandemic and left thousands of students searching for a place to reside.
We were told to pack some bags and go home, or go anywhere really.
One by one, students went home or were paired off with surrounding churches for respite. Only the “elite few” were allowed to stay on campus. Students who were missionaries or pastor’s kids were given preference. Students who had “ins” with administration or important staff members were conveniently allowed sanctuary in dorms.
Then, there was me.
A straight-A honor roll student. A student who volunteered in as many organizations as they could and did their best to meet Cedarville’s idea of a “good Christian young woman.” A young naive twenty-year-old girl with a known heart disability who had recently started dating a Christian young man whose family members attended Cedarville.
I petitioned Cedarville to allow me to stay on campus. I had no resources outside of the University to ensure I would be fed, housed, and in a suitable place to take care of my medical needs. I was denied. They told me to reach out to a church and see if some stranger would take me in disregarding their legal responsibility to allow me the housing I paid for.
I began to look frantically as my days left on campus dwindled quickly. Each unsuccessful second that went by looking for housing pushed me one more second closer to homelessness.
Eight hours from Cedarville, my mother was actively fighting the Coronavirus in the trenches of a hospital ER while my father was trucking many hours to ensure our state was still fed. My siblings hid at home praying for my parent’s safety while doing everything they could to stay healthy themselves. My sister, frail from her weakened heart and deteriorating body, feared for her life as she was given a death sentence if she caught the virus.
I could not go home.
Cedarville remained open for the elite who were chosen to stay on campus. The ones whom Cedarville thought were worthy of protection. Those students continued to be fed and housed. I found the President of Cedarville, Thomas White, in the cafeteria and shared my fears. He told me to talk to the Dean of Women: Mindy May, a woman who made it clear she did not like me.
On numerous occasions she threatened to kick me off campus If I could not get my heart disability under control. I petitioned to stay again but the answer remained. I had to leave. Cedarville wanted to keep the numbers as low as they could on campus and I was deemed not in need enough to stay.
I packed the essentials and what few possessions I could fit in my parent’s old grey half broken down Prius they had let me borrow at the beginning of the year, and I prepared to leave.
Just one day before being sent from campus I found an elderly couple to reside with. After about a week, my stay there was complete. They could not house anyone long-term due to the health risks it posed them. I deeply respected that.
I moved on to stay with a friend for a few days and then was told I needed to go somewhere else. Not out of malice or spite, but simply because each family was doing what they could to keep their family safe.
Except this time was different. I did not find anywhere to go at the last minute. I was out of options: be homeless or spend time at my boyfriend’s house with his mother.
Being a young girl with strong morals, I personally opposed to residing in the same house, but I was given a different room upon arrival and assured that his mother would be around.
Looking back, I can truly say I did everything I could. I stayed in public spaces around him, remained modest, and upheld the values I held dear to my heart.
But. It. Didn’t. Matter.
One night went by and all seemed well, but the next day his mother went to her work office to sort out some urgent matters.
My boyfriend, in broad daylight, alone in that country house trapped me. Grabbed me. Heinously defiled me. Bruised me. Cut me. Raped me, destroyed me, and left me.
I was stuck in that house with nowhere to go. A house I never would have been in if Cedarville let me stay. If Cedarville deemed me valuable. Stuck- on the second floor in broad daylight, only one exit from that house. A long flight of stairs down to the main living room full of dog hair and crusty wallpaper and the man who had stolen everything from me in an instant.
I hid in that room and cried for hours. Terrified and broken. I sobbed and sobbed and eventually, he came upstairs. He said he was sorry for what he had done and that he would protect me. I could not tell his mom I could not tell anyone. He said he would ruin me if I ruined him.
Less than 24 hours later he marred me again.
Worse. Much worse. I begged him to let me go see a friend and assured him I would be back. He trusted me and I fled to the hospital where COVID was in full force.
There was no compassion or close contact. I was stripped, tugged, pulled, photographed, tested, treated, and discharged. They took my clothes, took my hair, took my blood, and took my dignity. They sent me out of the hospital doors wearing a prisoner’s grey jumpsuit broken by the world and turned into a lost scared little girl fearing for her life.
I was referred to a sheriff who took on my case and then I was forced to return to the house I was attacked in to retrieve my few belongings.
I called my pastor’s wife at the time who said she was so sorry this happened and she told me she would help me.
I spent the night alone in my car and the next morning I contacted Cedarville. The one place that could actually keep me safe until I could go home. Their campus dining and residence were still open to the elite few, I knew they could take me in. The only one who could provide me with what I needed during the most vulnerable time in my life. I was hoping I would find respite in a time that NEVER should have occurred if Cedarville had allowed me to stay in the first place, but because I was not the elected elite few and not a shining star in Mindy May’s eyes, she sent me packing.
I spoke to one of Cedarville’s licensed counselors who told me she was so sorry but could not talk to me on the phone because the counseling office was no longer open. She referred me to title 1X who told me to file a police report and turn it into her.
From there I got connected with my campus Pastor’s wife, who also worked as a staff member on Cedarville’s campus; she assured me they would find me safe. She contacted Mindy May personally and with my permission, told Mindy everything that happened. She explained that I needed access to my belongings in my dorm as most of the items I had taken with me were absconded from me and that I needed temporary housing to keep me safe from the man who was threatening to permanently harm me again and to hurt my family. Cedarville was the safest place I could be. I knew Cedarville. In my broken, vulnerable, physical, and mentally shattered state I needed safety.
Cedarville preached God’s love and safety but never gave it. Hypocrites.
My pastor’s wife told Mindy how I had been raped and how I was left with nowhere to go. She made valid all the reasons why I needed to be back on campus and allowed in with the elite few.
Yet Mindy still said no.
She deemed the risk of one more student staying on campus too high to overcome. She told the Cedarville staff member to help me find a residence but that Cedarville did not want to be put at a higher risk for coronavirus so she would not let me return.
In doing so she proved that unless you are a chosen selected valuable few to Cedarville you are disposable. Cedarville offered no protection to me- the disabled. No protection to me the- homeless. No protection to me- the raped. It did not matter because I was disposable.
The real truth is if Doctor White or Mind May’s imaginary daughter had been in a situation where they would be homeless Cedarville never would have forced them to leave. They would have never gotten hurt and they certainly would have made room for them to return. But I was not valuable enough.
I was left disregarded and sent to a random stranger’s house. Hoping to goodness my attacker did not find me. Bleeding, sick, and hurt, hiding in a stranger’s house with a stranger’s belongings and trying not to completely lose hope.
Hurt, marred and stunned by the world, I get a call from Cedarville’s Title 1X who implies I could be the problem. I was asked if there was anything you did wrong? If I possibly tempted him? I was told he should not have done that even if I was butt naked dancing in a strip show, but still, maybe I tempted him. Compassion with twisted ideology. Questions with manipulation and false conceived mercy with guilt. I had done nothing wrong yet I felt I was the one to blame.
Cedarville, a school that preaches love and acceptance maintains a defiled view of the life of its students. Cedarville, a group that challenges compassion for those in need will trample over you if you are not like them. Cedarville, an institution paid to provide housing and food will take that from you if deemed necessary.
It sickens me to know that the woman who made the decision for the trajectory of my safety and my life during such a vitally vulnerable time still has the ability to make decisions over many girls’ life. She remains the Dean of Women to this day. It sickens me to know I will spend many years in debt trying to pay back the hospital bills that never should have occurred. It sickens me to know that I will spend thousands of dollars and twenty years of my life paying back Cedarville student loans that should no longer be my responsibility. It sickens me to know that a God of love and a God of justice is being presented at Cedarville yet no justice has been brought for what I was forced to endure.
While I have endured this great tragedy that never should have occurred, I still pray for Cedarville, I pray for their students, and I pray justice will be brought for their failures and what I was forced to endure by their hands.
14 thoughts on “Student Voices #003: Abandoned”
What a brave young woman! This story will help many from the past and the future who may not be as brave as her. I’m sorry this happened to you but know that God will use this story to bring injustices to light and His kingdom will overcome. Let’s help those in need and expose those who talk the talk snd not walk the walk.
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Though the pandemic context was a frightening and confusing one for all universities, there’s no excuse for what happened to this student. As a CU alumna and former professor, this greatly saddens and angers me. It’s one of many reasons I left there in 2017.
Thank you, beloved daughter of Christ, for speaking out. May you find the healing you deserve and the love that lets the world know we are Christians (John 13:35). I am so sorry you did not experience anything even remotely close to such love from Thomas White and Mindy May at CU in your greatest time of need. What a travesty of the Gospel CU continues carry out.
By now, those who followed the stories that came to light after the Anthony Moore scandal also know that this rape victim is not the first to be mistreated by Mindy May, John Wood, Thomas White, and the Title IX office at CU. Indeed, all the stories read like ones The Roys Report brought to light back in the spring/summer of 2020 here: https://julieroys.com/podcast/rape-victim-at-cedarville-asks-where-was-my-protection/ and here: https://julieroys.com/rape-victim-whose-story-ousted-paige-patterson-says-cedarville-pres-thomas-white-was-part-of-cover-up/
Equally disturbing is that this abuse continues, in the wake of those stories, after White promised to do better and supposedly took sensitivity training about this very thing. He even spoke in chapel about how he’s now a victim’s advocate. However, White awarded the Staff Member of the Year to Mindy May immediately after The Roys Report ran the story about May’s mistreatment (abuse) of the previous rape victim. So White is brazen about this kind of abuse because the Board of Trustees has given him carte blanche. He knows he faces no accountability precisely because the Board of Trustees is equally misogynist. White’s administration is adept at image maintenance, so he quickly put up all the Title IX decor up on campus and said the “right things.” But it’s clear nothing ever really changed, isn’t it? How many more stories are yet to be told?
When I was a CU student in the 1980s, it was unthinkable that rapes were even occurring between CU students, let alone that perpetrators were not being punished and victims were not being helped. I’m not naive; rapes certainly may have happened and never got discussed. But my point is that now it seems like an annual occurrence. CU is not a safe place for female students, especially not for past or present victims of molestation or rape. And when I taught at CU, I met many such young women who were made to feel ashamed about such abuse that occured even in their childhoods.
The same thing Paige Patterson, Thomas White, and Joy White did to Megan Lively at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003 is going on at Cedarville now–and has been for some time. In other words, this is nothing new.
As Roys reported in May of 2020, Megan Lively told her that “Cedarville University President Thomas White participated with Patterson in the alleged cover-up of her rape in April 2003. Lively added that in the months that followed, she was required to meet multiple times with White’s wife, Joy White, now an assistant professor of women’s studies at Cedarville, as part of a ‘disciplinary plan’.
“‘I was made to feel like what happened to me was my fault,’ Lively said. ‘The sexual assault was downplayed,’ Lively added, saying that those involved tried to convince her that what had been done to her was not rape.”
Blame & shame the rape victim: That’s the Paige Patterson Protocol White, May, Wood, and others follow at CU. “Break her down.”
So much for victim advocacy.
**For those new to CU or this ongoing conversation, many other links about the disturbing stories regarding White’s leadership that came to light in 2020 exist, and CI does a good job of offering those links in its first articles. Likewise, the blog Righting America has done a great job chronicling CU’s movement back towards fundamentalist, legalist mindsets and policies, including adopting the censorship policy in 2017 (which never existed when I was a student at CU in the ’80s!). You’ll gain access to all the media publications about this sordid history here: https://rightingamerica.net/resources-on-the-cedarville-university-scandal/ Nothing CI is doing is about gossip or tearing down fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s about exposing the truth, for as Ephesians 5 tells us, “Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” Evil, like the evil of covering up rapes and abusing rape victims must be exposed–must be made visible–for then once it becomes “illuminated,” it likewise “becomes a light.”
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This seems fake and made up.
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Because no such heinous activity could happen in idyllic Cedarville, right? Nice appeal to incredulity. Just be glad you have the privilege of such naïveté.
Comments like these perpetuate silence from survivors. Sickening.
This is possible to take to court. I would speak with a Lawyer
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The amount of miss information is quite horrendous, The only people aloud to stay on campus were students who lived in foreign countries, but we all know the Cedarville interpreter lives by “their own truth”. These claims about against The University are false, we did not shut our doors to hide from Covid-19. We shut them to keep the students and faculty safe.
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And that justifies a rape? Cool
I’m sympathetic to any victim of sexual assault but this seems like a witch-hunt.
No one should ever, ever be blamed for assult or the sins of others. She did nothing to deserve what had happened to her. While Cedarville definitely could have given her some more grace in her transition home, I can see how Mindy May saw her home as suitable and probably did not understand why she couldn’t join her family. Everyone was at risk of getting COVID-19 at the time, this woman’s story is not much different than many others who had to join their families who were facing illness. To correct the misinformation- Cedarville only allowed international students to stay on campus because their countries would not allow flights to come in and out. It is insensitive to deem these students as the “chosen” or “elite” because many could not see their families for 2+ years and I know of many family members of these kids who passed from COVID without their children (who were still at Cedarville) being able to see them. This woman is a victim of sexual assault and being blamed for what happened to her- but it was not Dr. Mindy May’s responsibility to allow her to stay on campus when she could have theoretically gone home.
It actually wasn’t just international students. Others were allowed to stay as well like athletes and people with certain academic statuses. The point is there was absolutely no reason to deny her housing. She clearly could not have gone home—it was a matter of life and death.
No, you are actually incorrect. I’d like to know where you got that information. I am sorry but you were misinformed.
The amount of people who will go down fighting for cedarville when in fact cedarville wouldn’t do the same for them is truly disgusting. There was no reason to deny housing and cedarville could’ve helped her during a crucial time of need and support. Cedarville PRIDES themselves on the fact that their “for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” but this is not something Jesus would of done, and the word of God CLEARLY calls us to help those in need. The bottom line is cedarville had the room, they had the resources, and they turned her away when she needed them the most. Stop defending cedarville when they clearly don’t give two fucks about what happens to a majority of their students. Start defending the voices and stories of people who have been hurt and start bringing light to this subject at cedarville. I’m so sorry to this person who was failed in a time of need, this should’ve never happened and was totally preventable on the part of cedarville.
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Was the boyfriend criminally charged and, if so, what was the outcome of that criminal case?