November 2, 2012: A University of Richmond campus security guard finds senior Allie Albright crying hysterically in the bushes near Atlantic House.
That night, Allie strayed from her normal crowd and carpooled the one-mile distance from the University Forest Apartments to Old Fraternity Row.
“We went over there and I remember nothing,” Allie said. “I don’t remember getting to the lodges, I don’t remember leaving the apartments. I don’t remember anything.”
Allie mustered enough identifying information for the police to contact her parents, who lived just down the road from campus.
As Allie’s parents escorted her to their home, her mother, Karen, recalled seeing a small car with headlights idling in the corner of the Atlantic House parking lot. At the time, the car seemed irrelevant.
But her mother’s recollection would later match Allie's description of the car in which she remembered being raped that night.
Soccer was ingrained into the hearts of Allie and her younger brother, Tim, as they grew up in Richmond. She spent her high-school years at The Collegiate School — just a 5-minute drive from campus down River Road — excelling as a goaltender, while Tim dominated as a forward.
She grew up familiar with University of Richmond’s distinctive red-bricked buildings. She considered it her second home, holding her seventh birthday party in the university’s dining hall. Her father, Peter Albright, became Richmond’s first and only head women’s soccer coach in the spring of 1996. He has since been a staple of Richmond’s athletic department.
Peter declined to be interviewed for this story.
Allie idolized the women on her father’s team and would eventually become one, committing to play for Richmond without pressure from her father. Tim would follow suit two years later.
Like most, Allie studied abroad. Unlike most, she traveled abroad twice — the first time, a summer in Zambia and the second, a semester in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she spent five days climbing nearly 20,000 feet to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. When she wasn't out of the country, she enrolled in art and international studies classes.
Devastating injury defined her collegiate soccer career. From 2009 to 2013, she underwent four hip surgeries that kept her off the field for the majority of her time at Richmond after a medical redshirt her freshman year.
Still, she flourished socially and considered herself to be the “fun, life-of-the-party person.” She scheduled weekly dinners with her brother and formed strong relationships with fellow athletes.
Her friends loved her, and she loved them.
“It would take me days to find anything wrong, anything negative about her,” said a former Richmond football player and one of Allie’s closest friends. “She’s the type of person that everyone needs in their life. ...She’s like a complete person.”
That November night four years ago, Allie was barely three months into her senior year at Richmond. Tim was in his second year and their father, Peter, was in his 16th leading the women's soccer program.
It was an emotional night. It was the closing chapter to the men’s soccer program, for which Tim was a key player. Allie was a fan in the stands with her parents at her sides.
The weeks leading up to the game were dominated by rumors of the board of trustees, namely Paul Queally, pushing to cut the men’s soccer and cross-country programs in favor of a men’s lacrosse team. People were outraged, students blindsided and the Albrights left bitter, as they remain today.
The men’s soccer team wasn’t set to make the postseason, and in dramatic fashion, the program’s final game was set against a nationally ranked VCU squad. The city was united with “ridiculous turnout” as Richmonders breathed in the cold Robins Stadium air on Senior Night, Tim said.
Timmy, as Allie affectionately calls him, earned two assists and three shots that night in the 3–3 double-overtime tie.
“I was like the most exhausted I’ve ever been in my life,” said Tim, who played more than 100 minutes. Later that evening Allie and her brother set out alongside the men’s team to celebrate their program-ending tie.
The destination for the night was the fraternity lodges, the foundation of Richmond’s party scene but a location Allie had been just twice before. Tim’s night ended early — he was physically drained from the game and consciously slipped out of the post-game rally.
For the next 18 months, Allie would have no memories of that night.
November, 3, 2012: “I woke up, was completely disoriented,” Allie said. “I had no recollection of coming home, of my parents coming and getting me and I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh I’m in so much trouble, what did I do last night?’”
That same sense of complete disorientation seeped through Tim as he awoke on campus to nearly 20 missed calls from family and friends pondering the events from the night before.
“Everyone was asking me what happened and ‘where was Allie?’” he said. “…‘what do you remember, what did you see?’ All this stuff. I felt like a shitty brother almost. …I left really early and I didn’t see anything or remember anything really distinctly happening.”
To put off facing interrogation from her parents, Allie showered.
She then trudged downstairs from her childhood bedroom, with distinct soreness and cramping in her stomach. It wasn’t a normal hangover.
Allie’s mother made the quick decision — the kind mothers make when they feel something is wrong — to go to St. Mary’s Hospital, where she told the receptionist she was concerned her daughter had been raped. Her father called a University of Richmond police officer to meet the Albrights there, as they waited hours while two rape victims were examined ahead of them.
Allie was given Plan B, tested for HIV and received antibiotics to combat potential sexually transmitted infections.
Doctors used a rape kit and Allie’s blood was drawn.
By then, it was 16 hours and a long shower after what would have been Allie’s first drink the night before. Any substance that would have entered her system was nearly untraceable. The doctors found partial strands of DNA and discrete abnormalities in her bloodstream, but nothing could be proven.
She did not drink much the night before, she said. The irregularities in her blood work pointed to the presence of a date-rape drug. And though inconclusive, Allie was devastated.
“I wasn’t just some girl that was drunk on campus and fell in the bushes and got in trouble with the police,” she said. “That validated for me like, okay, something happened. ...and with that knowledge that something happened I kind of started spiraling a little.”
In the days and weeks following, Allie suffered from severe bouts of depression and intense emotional flashbacks to what “must have been happening through the attack,” she said. She would wake up screaming and “just absolutely terrified” in her childhood home, where she often slept after that night.
Her time at Richmond began to feel “numbing and hard to stomach.”
When the emotional trauma began to take its toll, Allie entered therapy. Tim had planned to transfer to play soccer at another school, but he decided to stay in part because of Allie’s struggle. “Allie was going through all this shit,” he said. “…It wasn’t like we were getting our weekly dinners and catching up and stuff like that.”
A doctor prescribed anti-psychotics to help her sleep, but life remained difficult. Her friendships unraveled and her personality transformed. By spring of 2013, she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and continued to suffer from severe hallucinations and dissociative effects.
“All of my friendships changed because the person [I used to be] wasn’t around anymore,” she said. “I wasn’t the same person and I wasn’t able to do all the things that I used to be able to do because I would have episodes and breakdowns and flashbacks.”
She leaned on a select few outside of her family and found comfort in her best friend at Richmond, Nicole Olshan. Allie had confided in Olshan, her friend since freshman year.
In response, Olshan confessed to Allie that a Richmond football player assaulted her during her freshman year. Olshan chose not to report.
“Against the odds, it was just like us two against the world,” Olshan said. “We spent a lot of time healing.”
Allie launched two investigations: one with the university’s police department and one with Richmond’s Title IX office. She worked exclusively with Westhampton College — specifically Kerry Albright Fankhauser, former deputy Title IX coordinator and Juliette Landphair, former dean of Westhampton College.
Allie called working with Westhampton administrators “phenomenal,” saying “they were very invested in my well being and success on campus” and were crucial in her recovery process.
“In my years at WC, the women who suffered from sexual assault and came to the deanery for support, such as Allie, helped us tremendously in giving voice to the issue,” said Landphair, who is currently the vice president for student affairs at Mary Washington.
Allie’s case never made it to Richmond College’s Title IX office.
“There was no investigation to really go on because all that we had was a partial DNA [sample] and the knowledge that I was raped,” Allie said. “So at that point it was kind of up to me to get that knowledge back.”
With her case at a standstill until more evidence emerged, she began to share her story with the hope of finding the missing puzzle pieces.
“I really started actively asking people I was around that night, ‘Can you tell me anything about once I was at the lodge, like what was I doing? And how was I? Did I look okay? How are my eyes?’”
Allie turned to hypnotherapy to try to retrieve her blacked out memories. She threw herself into recovery with Richmond’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and participated in off-campus personal and group trauma therapy sessions. At one point, she was in therapy four days a week.
She was healing slowly but her memories were still largely non-existent. Eventually her Title IX case and criminal investigation with the campus police fell apart. “I felt that a lot of the hard work that I was doing wasn’t being understood,” she said of the police department. “From their perspective, I don’t think [the few memories I had were] reliable.”
Spring semester continued and Allie was shattered from the attack, at a loss from the outcome of her investigations and struggling with her diminishing friendships. She turned to denial in the hopes of forgetting. “I started drinking a lot,” she said. “I was drinking to black out and drinking to forget, which would turn into [an] awful [and] messy cycle.”
Her plans to join the Peace Corps had fallen through — she was accepted around the time of her attack. She graduated in May 2013, unemotional about leaving the university that had shaped so much of her life. In the summer following commencement she headed to her aunt’s Vermont lake home to heal.
Spending time in Vermont allowed Allie time to come to terms with who she had become since that November night. She remained in therapy and accepted a job at St. Margaret’s, an elite boarding school in Tappahannock, Virginia.
St. Margaret’s was also once a home to Cecilia Carreras, a Westhampton College student who accused the university’s administration of mishandling her Title IX investigation in September 2016.
May 2014: In the midst of University of Richmond’s final exam period, one year after Allie graduated, her memories of that fateful night flood back to her because of her hypnotherapy. She remembers being raped outside Atlantic House, in a car similar to the one her mother had witnessed idling in the parking lot the night of the attack.
She could identify a suspect and relayed the information to campus police. She pinpointed her accused on a photo lineup.
“Nothing came from it. He was never questioned. Nope,” she said. “Since there was such speculation that because the memories had come back in such a non-traditional way, he wasn’t bothered during finals week. I had great frustrations that once I graduated I felt my case graduated too, that it was no longer relevant.
“I feel like I’ve been tossed aside with this, and I was out-of-sight, out-of-mind. It no longer matters.”
Allie expressed that sentiment to Landphair and Fankhauser in a letter and was invited back to campus to speak with them about the case. The deans embraced Allie’s homecoming and re-opened the investigation. A new detective — the same officer who had found her in the bushes — was assigned to her case, but the student that Allie identified was never brought in for questioning and the case dissolved.
It’s been more than two years since the re-opening and Allie hasn’t heard back from the police department. “I was told they’d be in touch with me, and then they never reached back out to me,” she said. The police department contacted her father about the status of the case, but she was never notified, she said.
“The only thing I felt they failed me in was in their communication with me — and that’s the police department, not the administration,” Allie said. “I’m not immune to the reality that there was a lot of what-ifs in my particular case. All we had was a partial piece of DNA and memories brought back through hypnotherapy.”
Allie’s case was investigated by the campus police and reviewed by external agencies including the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, according to an email from Police Chief Dave McCoy. “We are sorry for the pain that she suffered through this process,” McCoy wrote. "Prosecution may be reconsidered if new evidence becomes available."
November 2, 2013: On the one-year anniversary of her rape, and six months before her memories of the night would return, Allie travels to Richmond from her new home and life away from school. She had planned a tattoo — a sun with different gradients of shaded lines to represent its rise on the horizon.
She made it through the first year and was prepared to see the sun rise. Though she spoke at Take Back the Night in the spring of her senior year and had attended the lodges one last time with Olshan — “We dressed up in our neon attire and danced around like frickin’ idiots,” Olshan said — the tattoo served to memorialize that time in her life in a different way. It was a reclaiming of her body, the body that she said was taken from her by a student who was never brought in for questioning.
Her father surprised her that day and inked the teal ribbon for sexual-violence prevention on his forearm, his only tattoo, to commemorate his daughter. A rainbow sticker adorns the outside of his office to distinguish the space as safe for the LGBTQ community.
“I’m so proud that he is so clear and intentional in his voice,” Allie said of her father. “There’s guys, there’s men, there’s people, that are really working to help create this safe culture at our school.”
That safe culture, though, has come under fire. In September of this year, Carreras and another Westhampton student accused the university of mishandling their Title IX investigations. Their accounts spawned campus-wide criticism and a restructuring of the university’s sexual assault and prevention process.
Although Tim thinks a rape problem exists at Richmond, he does not see a rape culture, he said. “I feel like those are two different things," he said. "I think culture kind of gives off the connotation that it’s accepted or encouraged and [a rape] problem, I mean, I think any rape is a problem. So if there’s one rape, then there’s a rape problem.”
“I just think that it’s something that is not just a Richmond problem,” Allie said. “It’s a generational problem. I think it’s everywhere right now, and I think by denying that our school has a problem with rape culture is naïve. I think our school absolutely has an issue with rape culture.
"And I think that’s what’s kind of left to change.”
On October 7, 2016, University of Richmond President Ronald Crutcher announced the creation of a Center for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response and the removal of Title IX processes from the coordinate college system.
Allie is currently in the process of writing a novel and drawing illustrations for a children’s book. Nicole Olshan served as the maid of honor in Allie’s August 2015 wedding. Her brother, Tim, served as the man of honor. Her father, Peter, walked her down the aisle.
Contact managing editor Lindsay Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you'd like to inquire about The Collegian responsibly telling your story, email us at email@example.com. To submit an anonymous tip, click here.