USF Student Arrested, Charged with “Acquaintance” Rape

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Allegations of assault and rape made by four female University of San Francisco students prompted the arrest of 21-year-old USF senior Ryan Caskey last Thursday. Caskey was arrested by the San Francisco Police Department on campus in the early evening and is currently incarcerated at the SF County Jail awaiting arraignment, when he will enter a plea of guilt or innocence.

Each of the reported rape incidents took place in on-campus residence halls over the last several months according to USF Director of Public Safety Dan Lawson. All of the alleged victims were female students and acquaintances of Caskey. One of the female students came to Lawson with her testimony on Feb. 10, and from there Public Safety was able to investigate, conduct interviews with other alleged victims, and make a case to present to SFPD. SFPD was contacted Feb. 11, and after reviewing the case, they took Caskey into custody the following evening.

Because of confidentiality required by the justice system, Lawson is not able to release many specific details about the case to the public. This ensures a fair trial if Caskey eventually faces a trial by jury and also protects the confidentiality of all parties involved. Lawson could not clarify when or where the alleged rapes took place, or whether date rape drugs were said to have been used.

The four alleged victims are currently receiving counseling for their trauma. Their identities are being protected for their own privacy.

Senior politics major Erin-Kate Escobar, who did not know the alleged victims, said she felt “so proud” of the women who came forward to testify about what had happened. “I feel empowered by their strength; I don’t know if I would have been as strong,” she said. Many cases of sexual assault and rape go unreported because the victims don’t know if they were really raped, or think they might have partially been at fault. Rape and sexual assaults are among the most unreported crimes; the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported.

Lawson emphasized that the nature of the rapes were “acquaintance rapes” as opposed to “stranger rapes,” a distinction that should be less fear-inducing to the community. He said, “Many people in the community are fearful when they hear that a rape has occurred. Their understanding is that somebody was waiting behind a bush or climbed in through a window – a complete stranger.” Lawson added, “[An acquaintance rape] is not any less severe. But it is important to remember that [Caskey] knew all of the victims, and they knew him.”

According to RAINN, 73 percent of rape victims know their assailants.

Many students at USF have reacted with an expectable amount of outrage. A group of about 12 concerned students gathered Monday night to develop a list of requests for the administration to increase awareness and education about sexual assault and rape. The requests focused on educating students about what defines sexual assault.

Erika Carlsen, a senior politics major, attended the meeting and said that education about sexual abuse should be sustainable, an integral part of orientation to college. These students plan to solicit feedback and concerns from more students at a meeting on Thursday in Parina Lounge at 11:30 am. After gathering this information, they plan to draft a letter to the administration that addresses these issues.

Maggie Mullens, a senior sociology major who attended the meeting, was concerned that more students were not discussing this matter more seriously. “I’m furious that the average student isn’t more furious,” she said. She was also concerned about the University’s policy of being what she called “intentionally vague,” only releasing the most basic information to the student body, who she felt had the right to know the whole story. Lawson justified that this was standard protocol and he had been specifically asked by the SFPD to not release any more information than was necessary.

Caskey was in his fourth year at USF, majoring in politics. In addition to his studies, he was also serving as a cadet in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.

He is now on interim suspension from the university, which stipulates that he not attend classes, take part in any USF-affiliated activities, reside in his apartment in Loyola Village, or enter any part of the campus until further notice. If Caskey is found not guilty or has his charges dropped, the university may reevaluate the situation and permit him to re-enroll in his classes and on-campus housing.

If he is found guilty on the charges, he could face between three and eight years in state prison for each count of rape, according to California Penal Code Section 261.

The Department of Public Safety continues to investigate the case and is leaving the door open for any more victims to come forward, whether related to this case or any other.

Lawson said he hoped the University community will look at this as a warning to exercise more caution in the future. “Use this as a learning moment,” he said. “Bad things happen sometimes, even on a very safe campus – and this is a very safe campus… What matters is how we’re prepared to react to it and prevent it from happening in the future.”

To Escobar, the best way to prepare against this is more education about rape and sexual assault. “I want to see students want to be educated,” she said. “We need to make it part of our curriculum.”

Lawson recommended simple measures to help prevent rape. “We don’t ever want to say that a victim is at fault in these situations,” Lawson said. “What we do want to say is there are ways to avoid being put in those circumstances… Keep an eye on your friend and take care of each other – that’s what we want to promote.”

15 COMMENTS

  1. This is the best coverage of this story I have seen.

    The Examiner produced a tabloid piece of trash story in todays paper. There is a huge photo of the Lone Mountain stairs (2/3 of front page) and the word ‘Predator” in giant block letters with the sub-heading “Ex-ROTC cadet charged by district attorney with four rapes of fellow USF students.” And then buries the story on page 5, and then decided to go with Gavin Newsom’s baby announcement over the rape story for the website. Glad to know the Examiner stopped trying to be a real newspaper again, lets just call it what it is – tabloid trash.

  2. Is the sky falling yet Examiner? Please keep us up to date on the status of the sky because that is now your only journalistic responsibility.

    I hope USF journalism profs. use this as an example of the kind of story you don’t want to run, kind of paper you don’t want to be and kind of journalist everyone should despise.

    Hey Examiner, US Weekly is calling, wait no their not, they already have trash columnists. Too bad your paper is already free, no place to go, can’t go down so you should probably go out!

  3. “Lawson emphasized that the nature of the rapes were “acquaintance rapes” as opposed to “stranger rapes,”’a distinction that should be less fear-inducing to the community.”

    Seriously, I can’t imagine which would be worse, being violated by a complete stranger or by someone who you had at least some degree of trust in.

    I feel like the general attitude coming from these USF/Public Safety notifications and bulletins is one of “This isn’t what our school is about, this isn’t the kind of thing that happens here” which is stupid because it DID happen here. With our silence and complacency, we’ve all contributed to building a community where someone feels like it’s okay to do these things. We all feel ashamed and disgusted but we have to own what happened instead of trying to write it off as some freak incident.

    When I worked for the Front Desk we had sexual harassment training and it was an absolute joke. I don’t think we spent more than ten minutes on the subject and the treatment of the matter was shallow at best. And this was “training” that had been prepared by University staff! I agree that this kind of education needs to be sustainable, extending not just to orientation events but to classrooms.

    We have to be willing to talk about how this is an issue that has everything to do with how we treat each other every day.

  4. This is one of the best pieces I have seen in the Foghorn since I began reading it. Laura did a fantastic job. She walked the line between sensitivety and news coverage to perfection. The sourcing is exemplary and the writing is precise. This is an example of what journalism is supposed to be. Take note. Great job, Laura.

  5. Ok this guy was really messed up for what he did. In no way am I saying that I think that he shouldn’t have to face consequences for his actions. I just went to the forum discussion on this incident and I have to say I was very disappointed in the way that the discussion went. First off I hear someone complaining that the administration didn’t take care of the issue properly. That notice was not given in a timely manner. How in the world can people say that? I don’t know if many of you understand the criminal procedure in this country but I believe our law still States “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”. You cannot just go around throwing content in the air. Administration cannot just give the community information based on the account of people involved. It does not matter if public safety as individuals were 99.9% sure of their belief that the incident occured. In our criminal process evidence must be collected before any person can be arrested. Until the arrest there was no reason the administration should have posted a single word. Legally they really can’t. AND furthermore until he is actually convicted in the court of law he is still ALLEGEDLY a rapist. If we are going to throw a fit because we feel we weren’t informed properly maybe we should take into account that REAL evidence needed to be put into place. I’m sure i could accuse just about anyone of rape(what if i was just mad and wanted to get back at someone) but does that mean that it should be thrown around lightly. If I accused you of rape and you didn’t do it and it got around imagine what that would do to your reputation! Not to mention that if the administration was to throw that around to the community and by some small chance this guy is acquitted of all charges this school could be sued for a lot of money! And I also hear that an email was not sufficient enough to be considered notice?! What the hell did you want them to do? Personally knock on your door and have a sit down with you?

    Another issue that really made me angry was that a good majority of the people involved were quick to judge the same military that has protected this country for a very long time. I’m sorry but blaming an entire organization based on the actions for a university cadet is just silly. There were students that knew the accused for his entire stay here at USF and did not know that he was capable of what happened. How can you blame an instructor that sees this guy about 8 hours of his day when his own classmates and friends couldn’t judge his character any better? Personally I believe that the students that want to disband ROTC on this campus are just using this incident as an opening to make their personal statement about a program that none of them fully understand because they have not experienced it. Saying that ROTC conflicts with jesuit standards has nothing to do with the problem at hand. Furthermore trying to say that the military basically trains their soldiers to think and act the way that this individual acted is utter nonsense. Again you speak of that which you no NOTHING about. Have you served your time in the military? Are you present as the soldiers are being trained? I don’t think so. So until you have that experience first hand I believe that you cannot for certain say that our military is responsible for creating monsters like that. Without that same military that you seem to hate so much your life would not be the same that it is today.

    Last but not least I have to address the fact that while this man did do a very wrong deed by disrespecting the bodies of these women I have to at least consider a few things that these young ladies should have been thinking. Who goes to a party and drinks enough alcohol to pass out? I don’t know about them but I can sure tell when I have drank a little too much and should maybe slow down. Maybe we can use this as a tool of knowledge and in the future have a little better control of ourselves as individuals also. If you can’t hold your liquor then maybe you shouldn’t be drinking. Learn your limit and don’t cross it. Have some responsibility for your own actions. I see things all around that say “drink responsibly” and if we are too immature to watch ourselves and think about the fact that we have drank just a little too much then we should throw away the bottle and leave the alcohol alone until we are a little more mature and can handle it.

    I know that I will probably have very few supporters to my belief but honestly I don’t really care because all of these points are valid and make a lot of sense regardless of if you want to believe that there ARE things that a victim can do to get out of being in that role. Again, I am NOT condoning the individuals actions. He made very wrong choices and justice is being served on those choices. If convicted he will have a very long time to think about what he has done. And lastly, I agree with the individuals that ask “why is it that we always wait until a crisis has occurred to act?”. Stop the situation before it BECOMES a situation.

  6. i agree “my_opinion,” completely. I also think it is important to point out that I don’t think the victims are to blame and I don’t think you are saying this either, I think they were drinking with “friends” and were taken advantage of and true we all make poor decisions when we have been drinking, including about drinking.

    I think some people who are upset (understandably, we all are ) are looking for someone to blame (typical American response) and are lashing out at the university, which did a flawless job in warning and supporting the community (including Dan Lawson who is a great guy and great leader of public safety) and also at ROTC, which has nothing to do with this case. Only an ignorant person could say an ROTC cadet raped someone because the military trained them in a way that made them violent or not respect women.

    I commend the ROTC cadets, especially the women, who went to the meeting today and stood by while all these ignorant feminists complained and cried about how the military is the reason four students were tragically raped.

    Also, let us not forget that Caskey allegedly raped people, while four cases seems very hard deny none the less he is accused and not guilty. I hope we can have faith in the justice system to sort this mess out before we pass judgment.

  7. ryan caskey does not seem like a person to commit these crimes, i say this because i actually know the young man in question and went to school with him for four years. his character at no point would make me think that he did this, but if it is true may god has mercy on him.

  8. I just would like to thank everyone who has commented. If nothing else, I would like to see that this incident has created more awareness about sexual assault and rape and has raised the dialogue among members of the community.

  9. All you people on here are judging a man that you have never met so don’t talk bad about him when you have never met him. I am friends with Ryan Caskey and I can vouch for his character just as many others are able to. To the comments of previous, putting Ryan’s name out there is very damaging even if he is found innocent. Ryan had to work hard to get his scholarship to USF and the ROTC because his family could not afford to send him to college. All Ryan ever wanted was to become an officer in the Army and retire after putting in his 20 years. Now all of that has been taken from him and his life has been essentially ruined. We are talking about a 21 year old here people who can be put away for the rest of his life. Ryan is a hardcore conservative and i am a hardcore liberal and there is no one i would rather stand behind than Ryan. Get to know the person before you destroy him from afar. Please pray for the young girls and Ryan. Let him have his day in court.

  10. Thank you for your comment, Jerry. I think it is important to remember that it is not up to the USF community to condemn Mr. Caskey as guilty or innocent. There is an established legal system to determine that as fairly as possible. It disturbs me the extent that most of the community has already convicted him in their minds when only the people directly involved know the truth. I hope my article stayed as objective as possible. I do not know Mr. Caskey and would never pass judgment on a situation I know nothing about.

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