Student Retracts, Apologizes for Sexual Assault Claim

An assault case near a nearby Dunkin Donuts was closed, according to numerous sources. Google Maps

An assault case near a Dunkin Donuts was closed, according to numerous sources. Google Maps

Updated On October 16 at 10:45 a.m.

By Joe Vitale

Following a university-wide email, an investigation by the NYPD Special Victims Unit and Public Safety, as well as embellished coverage from local media, a Fordham student who claimed she was assaulted steps away from campus has confirmed to administrators that “no crime occurred.”

Public Safety verified that the claims were false on Sept. 30 in an email sent to the university, informing the Fordham community that the student “advised” Public Safety that the assault she reported “had never occurred.”

The student who falsely reported the incident released a statement on Oct. 16, saying she we was “unbelievably sorry for lying.”

The statement, sent from the email address of Jeffrey Gray, Senior Vice President of Student Affairs, continued: 

As more and more people became involved, it got harder to turn back and tell the truth. However, I do not want anyone to feel as though they cannot come forward about something that happened to them because of my actions that I deeply regret. Sexual assault and molestation is nothing to lie about and should be taken very seriously and I feel ashamed for what I’ve done. I realize that my behavior has left an impact on Fordham’s community in- and outside the gates, and I am extremely sorry for the damage and the harm I have caused.

Every part of me wants to take back my actions. Unfortunately, that is not possible, so I can only learn from my mistake.

Students were first alerted of the incident through an email from Public Safety. “A female Fordham student reported she was sexually assaulted in an alleyway adjacent the Fordham Road Dunkin’ Donuts at 10:05 p.m.,” the email, sent on Sept. 27, stated.

The student told Public Safety she was passing through the alleyway of a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts when two males “accosted her,” then “one male grabbed her and forcibly held her arms behind her back while the other forcibly groped her body.”

Specifics continued from Public Safety, with many detailing the “incident” that was said to have occurred around 10 p.m. on Sept. 26.

“As one of the males was unzipping his pants, unknown individuals approached the rear parking lot of Dunkin’ Donuts, apparently alarming the assailants, who fled on East Fordham Road, possibly westbound,” the email stated.

The claims were reported as unfounded according to an email sent three days later.

Following an investigation, which included the collection of video and physical evidence as well as interviews with the student and witnesses, detectives on the case “determined that the alleged assault had not taken place.”

The investigation, which was being conducted by the Special Victims Unit, had been closed as of Wednesday, Public Safety said.

During a Student Life Council meeting on Wednesday, Christopher Rodgers, dean of students at Rose Hill, said that the NYPD found that the incident was fictitious. No further details have provided to students, including specific details about the investigation or the student’s reasoning.

“What I can confirm is…the NYPD found that no crime had occurred and that the student confirmed this,” Rodgers said during the session following a question from The Fordham Ram.

“T​hough rare, f​alse reports are a very serious matter, not only because they alarm our community, but because they might cause real victims of this under-reported and serious crime to hesitate in asking for help,” said Rodgers in a statement to The Fordham Ram on Tuesday.

CBS, relying on an unnamed source, first reported on Sept. 29 that the student recanted the story, saying that she “may have falsified her story because she had an argument with a friend about being late.”

“Investigators were unable to find sufficient evidence,” CBS said in its report, “and the woman later admitted that she made the story up.”

Fordham Public Safety did not go into specific details about this claim by CBS in its email.

Many students took to social media to voice criticism and concerns about the incident, questioning the reporting of sexual assaults.

The Sexual Misconduct Task Force, a coalition between United Student Government and Women’s Empowerment, issued a statement regarding the incident.

“As the Sexual Misconduct Task Force, we cannot condone false reports of any crime, especially sexual assault,” the group said on Tuesday. “However, we want to emphasize that despite the level of publicity this particular incident has received, false reports of sexual assault are in the minority.”

Noting that just over a third of sexual assaults are reported, the statement continued: “We want to reaffirm the importance of fostering a culture in which consent is respected and the voices of survivors are heard.”

“It can be incredibly difficult for survivors to come forward; seven out of ten survivors are assaulted by someone they know, and the cycle of abuse that many survivors live in can be incredibly hard to break. It’s imperative that we as a community are supportive of survivors, that we care for, listen to, and believe them,” the Task Force said.

WABC-7 ran a story on its website with a headline saying students were “on edge” following a sexual assault near Fordham University.

After an anchor from the channel reported that the student was “allegedly raped in an alley,” a newswoman showed the email alert to a group of students, drawing visible and audible gasps.

Another clip showed the student walking though the same alley, near Dunkin’ Donuts, with another student commenting that she would opt to walk through the business as opposed to walking through the alley adjacent to the business.

1010 WINS, a New York radio station, reported that “many students” told one of its reporters that “they are walking in groups from now on” following the incidents.

Only two news sources, however, published stories reporting that the investigation was closed following insufficient evidence.

The list included CBS and News 12 Bronx.

Laura Sanicola contributed reporting.

There are 4 comments

  1. Jacque DeMolay

    As an alumni with two children on campus, I would implore the university and the NYPD (taking the totality of the situation and the best interest of the public, students, and university into consideration) to charge the reporting student with falsely reporting this incident. Perhaps charging her will serve as an important lesson for anyone who has falsely reported incidents on campus or may consider doing so in the future. The university CERTAINLY should publish her name (as she is not the victim of a crime) and EXPEL her immediately! Perhaps after some psychological counseling, she could continue her education somewhere else.

    1. Leo Weaver

      Jacque, I am the student who called public safety for my friend at the time who I was genuinely concerned for. If possible I would like to further discuss this situation with you on a less public forum. My email is


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