I’m Melanie. At least, that’s what “Kevin” called me on Buzzfeed. In his lawsuit against the University, I’m simply Jane Doe. Jane Doe #1, to be precise, one of three who came forward against him.
I could have told this story before—when it first happened, or when I reported Kevin, or when I first heard that he was starting a lawsuit. But it wasn’t a story I wanted to tell—I didn’t even want to report what he did. What he did to me was shameful, and felt like a reflection on me. But now, he has told his version of the story—his victim-blaming story, in which he did no wrong, but was instead the target of a secret conspiracy. I can’t speak for the other women who reported him, though he lied about them, too. I speak only for myself.
On Buzzfeed, Kevin writes off what he did as drunk texting. He notes that when he texted me that night after midnight, drunk out of his mind and trying to hook up, he called me “babe” and “slut.” He says that, afterwards, I told him “we can definitely put it behind us.” Those things are true, but they’re not the whole story.
Here is what happened:
We had been friends, kind of. We worked together. I was troubled by the difficult things in his life. I spoke to him when I was worried about choices he was making. We talked sometimes at parties.
Around midnight on December 14, 2013, Kevin texted me, unprompted, “Hey babe sorry.” I was confused. Neither of us had ever expressed romantic or sexual interest in each other. He then texted an incoherent apology and said that he wanted to hang out. A bunch of my friends were over at my house, so I said sure, and he said he was leaving his house. When I went five minutes without responding, he sent, “Don’t be that girl.”
I told him that all of us were playing a nerdy game in my kitchen; I was trying to make clear that I wasn’t interested in hooking up. He called me several times, and I reiterated that other people were with me. He then texted, “I want you so bad right now.” I told him, “Well that’s not gonna happen,” and, “You know we’re not hooking up, right?” I stopped responding, made sure my front door was locked, and went back to hanging out with my friends.
Kevin kept texting me long after I stopped responding. My phone kept vibrating as one text after another came in, first apologetic and somewhat normal, and then:
“Don’t be that girl”
“I kinda wanna do dirty things to slut”
“Are you okay, hoe?”
“I wanna sleep with you babe”
A little past 1 AM, he finally stopped and left me alone. Fortunately, he never came to my house. I know this because I couldn’t fall asleep – I kept thinking about the vile things he said to me.
In the morning, at 9:45, he woke up, and sent:
“That’s extremely awkward”
Later in the day, Kevin sent a more coherent apology that acknowledged how uncomfortable I must have felt. I don’t have the text any more, but I remember that he said it was “the creepiest thing I’ve ever done.” It was an eloquent apology, but it took me a full twenty-four hours to figure out how to text him back. I didn’t know whether to express how demeaned I felt or simply to never talk to him again. Eventually I responded that it was okay, and we could put it behind us.
I thought that I could.
The next few months of working with him were incredibly uncomfortable, but I tried to look past it. Being a leader in a small organization means you watch out for the well-being of others, you try to make friends with everyone, you make peace. So I had to sit in meetings with him, I had to act as if I wasn’t freaked out by what “dirty things” he had wanted to do to me. I had to ignore statements he made claiming to be an advocate against sexual assault. I had to make nice.
I was a leader. Moreover, I was a female leader. I knew that this kind of thing happens to many women, including by people who work under them. I knew what kind of backlash I would get for reporting someone who worked with me, and who I often disagreed with on policy. I just wanted to move on.
That spring, after the story of another sexual assault lawsuit broke, the entire campus was talking about sexual assault. More and more people started coming out as survivors and telling their stories—including stories about Kevin. One of the women whom he had reportedly sexually assaulted was one of my close friends.
I realized that my experience with his unwanted, disrespectful sexual attention was not an isolated one – this was a pattern with him.
I have been able to move past a lot of harm and hurt that have been done to me. But I have never been able to easily forgive harm that is done to other people. Now, I was hearing countless stories of sexual assaults from my classmates, my friends. As I encouraged one student after another to come forward with their stories, I realized that I was a hypocrite for not reporting Kevin. Worse, I was potentially allowing him to do it again.
I had a lot of doubts about coming forward, given what I knew about the reporting and adjudicating processes, but I thought if it could lead him to understand the harm that his actions were causing, it would be worth it.
So, in early April, I reported what happened. I asked the Dean of Students to make sure Kevin was able to get counseling immediately if he needed it. I didn’t want him to do anything to hurt himself, or anyone else.
I didn’t know if reporting the incident would go anywhere. I thought it might be too late. Maybe someone would just sit down with him and tell him that what he did wasn’t okay. That would have been enough for me. Once I had come forward to report Kevin, two other women did as well. The process is easier when you know you’re not alone.
Still, the reporting process for sexual misconduct is long, emotionally taxing, and anxiety-inducing for both accuser and accused. There is no doubt that the process could be better. I know it was hard for Kevin, too.
But one of the hardest things for me about the adjudication process was that Kevin started spreading lies. He claimed that I was doing this for political reasons, that this was all a conspiracy to hurt him and to help pass a vote on which we disagreed. I can’t even begin to express how ridiculous this idea is. This narrative is his way of avoiding blame, and nothing more.
In hindsight, I wish I could have spent all the time and energy I spent fighting for recognition of what Kevin did working on the University policies I was working to change, or my schoolwork, or my own mental health, all of which suffered during that time. Really, I wish I could have done anything other than reliving over and over one of my worst experiences at Wesleyan. I certainly didn’t choose to go through that for my own gain. I gained nothing from reporting him, personally or politically, and I didn’t expect to.
The truth is, even after the school found him guilty of sexual harassment, and later of sexual assault, Kevin didn’t learn. I don’t think he has changed. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he spun a story, got a lawyer, filed a lawsuit, and talked to the media. And while he spelled out my identity in the article so clearly that any Wesleyan community member could figure it out, he didn’t tell the reporter my real name, or the names of the other women, so we “couldn’t be reached for comment.” Thus, his story got air time standing alone, and people think the story he told was fact.
Because of what Kevin has said online, there remains no end to the harassment for us. There is no closure. There is no moving on. As a victim, I now have to publicly defend myself and my motivations for coming forward.
Eleven months later, I have started having nightmares about him again.
In the Buzzfeed article, Kevin asks, “Do they want me to commit suicide? Is that what they want me to do? What is the endgame?”
Kevin, I don’t want you to commit suicide. I never wanted you to be in pain. All I wanted when I reported you was for you to recognize that what you did to me and to the other Jane Does was wrong. I wanted you to do better. I wanted to be able to move on, and yes, I wanted you to move on too, as a changed person.
But after reading your lawsuit, and all of the falsehoods you continue to spread, what I want is for my community to know the truth about you. You sexually harassed me and I decided to report it. You sexually assaulted others and they decided to report it. In two of those cases, the school decided to find you responsible. The fact that none of us reported you immediately reflects our own shame and a system that silences survivors. The fact that we spoke with you civilly after you violated us does not exonerate your actions. The fact that I told you “we can put this behind us” doesn’t erase what you did. It reflects my fervent wish to forget that my body was a plaything in the imagination of someone who I had counted as a trusted colleague—until I learned that other women’s bodies were playthings for you in the real, physical world. Your actions were wrong while I tried to forget them, and they are still wrong now that I choose to confront and remember them.
And, to address your most ridiculous theory: there was no political conspiracy. Wesleyan politics are simply not that interesting. Reporting an act of sexual misconduct is not a political choice or an “activist” tactic; it is a personal choice. It is a desire to have wrongful actions recognized as such and to bring those actions to a halt.
I am Melanie. I am Jane Doe #1. I am angry, but I am no longer ashamed. You are right about one thing, Kevin—you were hurt by the broken system of adjudication. So was I. It is a system that treats neither side with compassion. But the indisputable truth is that you violated me, not the other way around. All I did is ask the school whether you did something wrong, and the school’s answer was, unequivocally, yes. You abused me twice: first the texts, and now the lies.
Kevin, I have a question for you too: when will you finally stop finding new ways to harass the women you have violated?
When will you agree to take responsibility for what you have done?
Editor’s note: The comments section of this post will remain enabled, but the Wesleying comments policy stands. Comments with direct personal attacks and/or naming students directly involved in these cases will be promptly removed and the user banned. If you have any further comments or concerns, please email staff[at]wesleying.org.