By Emily Walker, Olivia McKelvey, Kevin Boodoosingh
In light of The Crimson’s recent publications on Florida Tech’s Clery violations, a third student has come forward with a report of rape that occurred in 2018. This report of rape was not accounted for in Florida Tech’s 2019 Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports, which included data from 2016 through 2018.
For the past three years, all sex offenses, including rape, were cited as zero in the report.
Every year, federally funded colleges and universities are required by the Clery Act to release a report of campus crime statistics. Florida Tech’s security department is required to gather data from the campus security crime logs, the Title IX office, Melbourne Police Department, Palm Bay Police Department and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office to compile data for the annual report.
Nicole Farnsworth, a forensic psychology student, is the third survivor to come forward regarding her report of rape in 2018. In prior publications, The Crimson had two anonymous sources come forward about their reported rapes in 2018. Farnsworth is the first survivor to put her name on record.
“When I saw those zeros for the past three year in the Clery report, it felt like I didn’t exist, like I wasn’t real and that I wasn’t raped,” Farnsworth said.
In August of 2018, Farnsworth was raped on campus, according to Melbourne police records. At the time she was 17 years old. About two weeks after her rape, she went to the Holzer Health Center in fear that she had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. After talking to her doctor, she was notified that due to the fact that she was a minor, her doctor was mandated to report her rape to the police.
According to Clery definitions, staff members at the health center and Counseling and Psychological Services are not mandated reporters unless it is for criminal offenses or if an individual that reports their rape is underage.
Farnsworth’s doctor at the health center gave her 24 hours to tell her parents about her rape before her doctor notified Melbourne Police Department.
Farnsworth’s doctor at Holzer Health Center was asked to comment on how they handle situations involving rape and sexual assault and the mandated reporting procedure the doctor must follow as a university official. They declined to comment, referring any further questions to Wes Sumner, the director of Marketing and Communications.
At this point in time, Sumner has not provided a comment regarding referral from the Holzer Health Center.
On Sept. 11, 2018 Farnsworth returned to Holzer Health Center to report her rape to Melbourne Police officers. She decided not to press any charges against her rapist.
Since her rape in August of 2018, Farnsworth has been diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist with depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.
In January 2019, she rescued Obi, a two-year-old pitbull mix, from a local shelter and is currently in the process of training him to be a service dog.
Since seeing The Crimson’s publications regarding Florida Tech’s Clery Act violations, specifically with underreported cases of rape, Farnsworth said she has experienced worsening of her anxiety.
“I’ve been having a lot more flashbacks, and Obi has been alerting a lot more to treat my anxiety,” Farnsworth said. “It’s been a lot more stressful, and I’m just really angry.”
On Dec. 2, Florida Tech students held a protest in response to the university’s Clery violations outside the Student Union Building. Farnsworth, along with her fiance and service dog, participated in the protest.
That same day, Farnsworth posted on Instagram about her experiences at the protest and her feelings toward Florida Tech after reading the 2019 Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports.
Farnsworth wrote on Instagram, “This is not an oversight; this is a direct attack on all rape survivors.”
In that same post she went on to state, “Do not send your children here. Pick a different college.”
Nearly a week ago, Farnsworth applied to University of Central Florida with plans to transfer to their online program by this upcoming summer.
“In light of everything—not just with my rape, but the way in which the university has not accounted for it—has led me to make the decision to transfer,” Farnsworth said.
Below is Farnsworth’s letter to the editor, citing her victim impact statement.
On Aug. 28, 2018, I was raped in my dorm room at Florida Tech. I waited almost two weeks to report it to the Holzer Health Center. The nurse I spoke to told me everything was confidential before I disclosed what happened to me. She then looked at my chart and realized I was underage and informed me she had to report it to the police.
They came into the health center to take my statement. I told them I didn’t want to press charges unless either there was another victim or I had an STD. The sergeant informed me this was not an “if/or situation”—either I pressed charges then or I didn’t. I told him I didn’t want to. He asked my mother if she wanted to press charges. She also declined.
Everything in my life changed after I was raped. I was constantly angry; my friends couldn’t stand to be around me because I’d get mad over little things. Eventually, everyone I met that semester cut ties with me. CAPS didn’t help; all they offered were blanket coping strategies that weren’t working for me.
A few months after my rape, my rapist walked into my new dorm building as I had to be switched due to the paranoia. He was there to see a friend and was within five feet of me. I told my RA who he was and she told me to leave and she’d text me when she got him out of the building. I ran from Brownlie Hall to Panther Dining Hall, only stopping once because I tripped and fell. I had to go to the emergency room that night because I was having a panic attack that wouldn’t stop.
I’ve had two attacks since then, the next always being worse than the last. Any guy that remotely looks like my rapist gives me an anxiety attack.
In January of 2019, I adopted a dog who is currently in training to help alleviate the symptoms of my PTSD due to the rape. My fiance has to deal with behavior from me he wouldn’t have to had I not been raped.
When the Crimson article came out about Florida Tech and the Clery Act, every bit of anger I had came back. I realized I mean nothing to the school; I don’t even exist to them. Seeing their reports and how the school has responded made me realize they don’t acknowledge I was raped at all.
In light of all of this, I no longer want to attend Florida Tech. I look forward to continuing my education elsewhere in the near future, as I have plans to transfer to UCF by this upcoming summer.
If you have made a report to Security or Title IX and feel it has not been handled correctly, visit endrapeoncampus.org/the-clery-act to file a complaint.
As a student-run newspaper, your voices are extremely important to us.
If you feel you have experienced something similar as described in this piece and would like to speak with us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
Women’s Center Counseling 321-242-1526
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233