When a University of Minnesota student was violently raped, she thought reporting the crime would be enough for a prosecution. It wasn't.
Waiving her right to anonymity, Abby Honold has come forward and decided to share her ordeal to raise awareness of the low rape conviction rate in the US.
Ms Honold had been at a university tailgate party when Daniel Drill-Mellum, a fellow student and party goer, noticed her cup was empty and suggested they go to his apartment – which was across the road – to get some more alcohol.
She told the Star Tribune that she felt safe going with Drill-Mellum because a mutual friend had told her he was gay.
When they got to his apartment, Drill-Mellum quickly checked there was nobody else with them, and then gave her a shot glass.
Ms Honold blacked out, and when she came to, Drill-Mellum was taking off her clothes.
Despite repeatedly begging him to let her go back to the party, he raped her twice, and let her go only after 40 minutes of the ordeal.
What did Honold do?
After escaping the apartment, Ms Honold called the police.
Drill-Mellum was arrested, and a detailed rape assault medical examination confirmed that she had cuts and bruises, and was bleeding profusely from the mouth where he had forced his fingers.
The nurse concluded that Honold’s injuries were some of the worst she had ever seen.
Honold told the investigating officer, Sgt Tom Stiller:
I was begging him to let me leave…I was saying ‘please, please, please, let me go'.
However, despite the evidence against him, Drill-Mellum was released without charge mere days later.
One of his roommates recorded a conversation with Honold (without her knowledge), saying it would "mean a lot to hear your side of the story" before she "went through with anything".
She misheard a question about consensual sex:
Ok. And then he, now, did you guys have consensual sex?
Of the tape, and the word ‘consensual’, Honold said:
What I heard was ‘like actual’ [not consensual].
He said ‘was it consensual sex’ but it very much came through on my end of the line as ‘was it like actual sex’.
The phone call was enough to free him, and in March 2015 while the university banned him from the campus until 2025, that was as far as punishment went.
In a Facebook post, Honold wrote:
Do not trust the police if your rapist is a rich white boy who can afford an expensive lawyer.
Upon hearing the news, Ms Honold says she dropped out of university, became suicidal and checked herself into a psychiatric facility, where she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Amy Isenor, a lawyer who works for Civil Society, an NGO that specialises in free legal aid for rape victims, took the case on.
Over two years after Ms Honold was raped, Drill-Mellum was arrested flying in to the US from Australia for his sister’s wedding.
Two more victims came forward claiming he had raped them. He pleaded guilty, and was convicted of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Drill-Mellum will spend six years in jail. He will have to register as a sex offender for life.
HT Star Tribune