A Richmond Circuit Court acquitted University of Richmond and Kappa Sigma junior Sebastien Fauchet Dec. 8 of raping a Westhampton sophomore during a party in his fraternity's lodge last spring.
According to reporting by Reed Williams of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a jury of five men and seven women deliberated for an hour before finding Fauchet, 21, not guilty.
The Collegian contacted Fauchet, other witnesses and lawyers, but the parties were unwilling to comment until the spring semester begins. The Collegian will be writing a more in-depth story at that time.
According to the Times-Dispatch article, Fauchet's accuser, who took the fall semester off, testified that when she was assaulted on a couch behind a curtain, she was in a drunken haze.
Defense attorney William J. Dinkin argued that the sex had been consensual, the Times-Dispatch reported, and he called three witnesses from the party, all of whom said they had neither seen nor had heard anything to suggest that a violent assault was occurring.
Fauchet's accuser, who is 20, testified she drank about three mixed drinks and two shots while hanging out with friends before the Kappa Sigma party. She said she also took part in the smoking of two marijuana cigarettes while she was walking to the party.
She said she drank on an empty stomach, and that she weighed 115 pounds at the time. After she arrived at the party, she saw Fauchet, approached him and asked where he had gotten a glow stick he was wearing around his neck.
She said she could barely walk on her own when he led her from the main party room, which was crowded and loud, and into the "brothers' room," a quieter area where other people were hanging out.
She said she blacked out, regained her senses and found Fauchet on top of her on the couch behind the curtain. She then tried to push him off, she said, but he held her down by one arm while her other arm "got caught underneath him."
She said she waited 11 days to report the incident because she wanted to make an informed decision and because she was concerned about the impact her allegation would have on the defendant.
When the verdict was read, Fauchet let out a sigh, tilted his head back, suddenly burst into tears and started trembling. He then rested one hand on Dinkin's shoulder, the Times-Dispatch reported.
Fauchet's accuser declined to comment after the verdict, as reported by the Times-Dispatch.
Seven forcible sex offenses, all of which occurred on-campus at the University of Richmond, were reported between 2008 and 2010, according to statistics published by the University of Richmond's Police Department.
"We're very relieved," Dinkin told the Times-Dispatch minutes after his client's acquittal. "It was a hard case. It was the right verdict."
Contact staff writer Tanveer Ahmed at email@example.com