Friend or Foe

In an era of hooking up, when does a date become rape?

Sarah asked to borrow a pair of Mike's boxer shorts. She took off her pants, put on the shorts, then climbed in bed with Mike. Mike's roommate was in the top bunk; the last thing he remembers was Sarah saying goodnight to him.

Mike and Sarah's versions of the following half-hour differ dramatically.

Mike says Sarah initiated the sexual contact, kissing his back and then his stomach. Then the two began fondling each other's genitals.

Geoffrey Grahmn
Mike Kochevar recovered his belongings from CSU last week, after the district attorney declined to press charges.
Anthony Camera
Mike Kochevar recovered his belongings from CSU last week, after the district attorney declined to press charges.

Sarah's account has varied slightly over several tellings. At 2:30 that morning, she would tell dorm resident advisors that she awoke to find Mike on top of her and that they were having sex. The following day, in interviews with CSU police, Sarah said she awoke to find Mike's hand down her pants. In that version, she also provided details of oral sex and other fondling. (Sarah insists that her story has stayed the same; she says the first version was someone else's interpretation of what she had told her.)

Indeed, according to Mike's account, after fondling Sarah, he performed oral sex on her. Although he says she was receptive and seemed to enjoy it, Sarah remembers not experiencing any pleasure at all. She says she "did not respond, did not help and did not reciprocate," according to a CSU official.

Clear communication between the friends remained elusive. The officials' report notes that Sarah "acknowledges that while she was not participating, she was also not directly communicating to [Mike] her lack of consent up until the point that she understood that [he was] going to have intercourse with her. Up until this time, [Mike's] behavior was similar to prior instances, and [he] never pushed it further."

Both Mike and Sarah remember Mike reaching for a condom he kept behind the clock on his desk. Sarah says she heard him tear the package open but never saw the condom. Mike recalls fumbling with the wrapper and then Sarah taking it from his hand, pulling the package open and handing it back to him. Sarah threw away the top part of the wrapper, he says, and he tossed the bottom.

At that point, Sarah reports that she began saying no to Mike -- two dozen times in all, by her estimate. Mike remembers her saying different words: "yes" and "right there."

"He says I was urging him on, but I was saying no the whole time," Sarah says.

The only other person in the room, Mike's roommate, reports hearing nothing.

Both Sarah and Mike agree that he ejaculated, but then the stories again diverge. Mike recalls a civil discussion, during which both he and Sarah agreed they had to go to the bathroom. Mike left, expecting Sarah to follow after she'd finished dressing. But when he returned to the room, Sarah was gone. He has not seen her since.

In her written account of the evening, Sarah recalls Mike saying he had to go to the bathroom. After he left, she writes, "I struggled to find my pants and underwear. I didn't find my underwear, but I did find my pants and put them on. I then woke up [Mike's roommate], who was in the room the whole time, and said, 'I think Mike just raped me.' And I ran out of the room, down the hall, down the stairs, outside, and to my hall."

Mike's roommate says he didn't remember waking up or hearing Sarah talk to him. And Sarah later amended her account: "I tried to wake up [Mike's roommate] but got no real response."

Only one other person says he saw both Mike and Sarah early that morning. A dorm resident named Justin claims he was heading back from the bathroom between 1:30 and 2 a.m. when he ran into first Mike, then Sarah, both heading down the hallway. He says he asked Mike how he was doing and that Mike said, "Okay," and continued toward the bathroom. When Sarah exited the room moments later, Justin says, he asked her how she was doing and she said, "Fine," and walked on.

Sarah says she never saw Justin that night. Lieutenant Swenson doesn't buy Justin's account, either. "If that's what he's saying, he's lying," the campus cop says. Mike and Sarah "never walked to the bathroom together."

About 45 minutes after she'd gone to bed, Sarah's roommate heard a knock on the door. She opened it and saw Sarah, who "was really upset." The roommates smoked a cigarette, then went to the resident assistant's room and spoke with her. The assistant called the hall director. After talking with Sarah and her roommate, the hall director phoned the Victim Assistance Team. Soon after the team's arrival, the group drove to the hospital so that Sarah could complete a rape kit.

By then, the campus cops were already involved. Dispatch records indicate that the hall director contacted CSU police at 2:35 a.m. Two hours later, Swenson drove to the hospital to interview Sarah and collect written statements. By 10:30 that morning, he'd obtained a search warrant for Mike's room.

A half-hour later, he was there. Swenson confiscated eighteen items from the room, including Mike's blankets, sheets and pillows, two pairs of boxer shorts, 29 beer cans, address lists and a phone bill off of Mike's desk, trash from a trash can, and a beer bong. Police also photographed a dry-erase board on Mike's door and his desk blotter, which had some e-mail addresses and phone numbers written on it.

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