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Oxford student ‘told her rape allegations would ruin professor’s bank holiday’


The Women’s Boat Club athlete claimed a male rower raped her after a night out last year (Picture: Getty)

An Oxford academic has been accused of telling an alleged rape victim that her claims could ‘ruin’ the university’s elite boat race and lose the team sponsorship deals.

The student, who is a member of the University of Oxford’s Women’s Boat Club, accused a male athlete of raping her on October 25, last year.

She said her accusation was not handled properly or sensitively by university staff after she decided not to report the alleged attack to police.

The athlete went public with her allegations last week – three days before the university’s historic boat race against rival Cambridge on April 4.

After speaking to reporters – but before articles were published – she claims staff made her feel ‘guilty’ warning she could lose the team sponsorship deals and the entire race could be called off because of her.

The student said she felt ‘ambushed’ by staff after revealing she had spoken to reporters and was made to call Chair of the Women’s Boat Club, Professor Leanne Hodson.

She said Prof Hodson, a professor of metabolic physiology, wanted to know why she had gone to press with the allegations days before the event.

The student told The Telegraph: ‘Leanne said: “I only have a few days off a year. This is going to ruin my bank holiday.” She said we needed to think about the reputational damage to the boat club and we needed to think “about the sponsors”.’

‘I was quite shocked to be honest,’ continued the student. ‘Suddenly it wasn’t about me. It was about this, it was impacting the race and the club. Leanne raised her voice. She was quite upset on the call.’

The student accused Professor Leanne Hodson of making her feel ‘guilty’ for taking her allegations to press (Picture: rdm.ox.ac.uk)

She claimed senior members of staff were ‘in hysterics’ trying to deal with the fallout from the press and felt she was being ‘pushed back in the corner when I just wanted my voice heard’.

Prof Hodson told the paper she was sorry the student had been upset by the call and that she had tried her ‘best’ to help. She said she had asked if the student was okay and was concerned about her welfare.

The racing chair accepted that words were said out of ‘frustration’, adding: ‘I didn’t say it “ruined” [the bank holiday]. I just said it isn’t going to be the relaxing bank holiday weekend I had hoped for. I just wanted to understand what I was dealing with; with it coming out of the blue.’

The student previously told how she drunkenly woke up in the rower’s room to find he was raping her after a night out in Oxford.

Two days later she reported the incident to his team’s coach. He denied all allegations.

The student filed a misconduct form to the university’s proctor’s office asking that a non-contact order be made against him, saying the alleged incident had ‘profoundly impacted all elements of my life’.

She claims he sent her a letter of apology days later saying he felt ‘terrible’, adding: ‘It was wrong of me to cross that boundary… I am going to read more about consent to make sure I understand it properly.’

The proctor’s office responded just under six weeks later to say it would not investigate unless she involved the police.

She had said she did not go to police over the allegations amid concerns about low rape conviction rates and the intrusive nature of such investigations.

A university spokesman previously said: ‘When students report sexual violence and harassment, we always respond swiftly and deal with complaints as quickly as possible.

‘Students are advised on their options and offered a range of support from the university sexual harassment and violence support service, including support from an independent sexual violence adviser and access to the counselling service.

‘While we cannot comment on individual cases in detail, we are confident that our disciplinary teams, support services and sports clubs in all cases will show great empathy and take considerable action to advise and support any student who raises concerns.’

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