Blackburn: No Evidence Sexual Assault Occurred at Hocking College

Posted on:

< < Back to

After months of investigation, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said physical evidence and security camera footage did not provide evidence that a sexual assault reported at Hocking College occurred.

A “thorough investigation” led investigators to the conclusion not only that no sexual assault occurred, but also that no alcohol was involved. Blackburn announced Wednesday that no charges would be filed and the case was officially closed.

“…The victims, nor the suspects, consumed any alcohol, the victim was not passed out, the victim did not leave the room at 4:30 in the morning, did not wake up with people being unclothed, so none of that is true,” Blackburn told WOUB in a phone interview on Thursday.

An incident report filed Sept. 1 alleged that a woman had been sexually assaulted and that five males were involved, according to previous WOUB reporting. According to the incident report, the alleged victim said she couldn’t remember how she returned to the Hocking College campus, but that a group of individuals had helped her get into her room when she lost her keys.

The woman told police she woke up naked with five males who were also naked.

The investigation was then referred by Hocking College Police Chief Al Matthews to the prosecutor’s office.

The investigation was helped by upgraded security systems at the college, Blackburn said. The office’s Sexual Assault Response Team “followed every protocol,” according to Blackburn.

During the investigation, rumors of the identities of the men alleged to have been with the woman that night were spread throughout social media. But Blackburn said social media’s role was minimal in the case.

“Honestly, I don’t think (social media) played any (role) at all, except for the extent in which people formed opinions without information,” Blackburn said. “Social media was not involved in causing the alleged incident and it did not hinder our investigation in any way.”

The alleged victim, individuals named by the alleged victim and the college were all cooperative during the investigation, according to the prosecutor. Blackburn met with the victim himself to notify her that no charges would be filed in the case.

“Following that meeting, I’m confident that we reached the correct conclusion, and there is no evidence to support a sexual assault occurred,” Blackburn said.

A Title IX investigation was initiated by Hocking College after the allegations were reported as well. No update on that investigation was available as of Thursday afternoon.

Nicolette Dioguardi, the college’s legal counsel and is listed on the college website as the Title IX coordinator, referred all comment to President Betty Young when asked if the investigation was still ongoing. Dioguardi said she could not make any comments on behalf of the college.