Sam Danley, News Editor
Zach Linhares, Distribution Manager
Esmie Tseng, Managing Editor
A Colorado man allegedly raped a UMKC student early last Friday, after carrying her unconscious body through the lobby of Johnson Residence Hall.
Jackson County prosecutors charged the suspect, Juan Contreras, 22, with first-degree rape. He is currently in custody at the Jackson County Detention Center on a $75,000 bond. Contreras is an undocumented immigrant and has been placed on an immigration hold.
According to an official statement from UMKC, Contreras is not a student at the school but is acquainted with UMKC students.
Court documents indicate that Contreras, two witnesses, and the alleged victim gathered at Johnson Hall at 5000 Oak St., before going to a night club in Lawrence, Kan.
The victim told police that after dancing with Contreras, they went and sat down on a couch to relax, and Contreras offered to buy her a drink.
Contreras returned with an alcoholic beverage, which the victim drank. After that, she says she doesn’t remember anything until she woke up the next morning in her room.
The victim told police when she woke up, much of her clothing was removed or in disarray. Contreras told the victim they had sex, and then the victim began striking him in the face saying that he raped her. Following that encounter, she went to North Kansas City Hospital for an examination.
Dormitory security footage showed Contreras carrying the victim, who was passed out and missing a shoe, into Johnson Hall around 1 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24.
Contreras walked past the front desk. According Residential Life protocol, the desk is supposed to be staffed 24/7 by a Residential Life student employees.
According to KCTV5, one of the witnesses was in the room when Contreras allegedly raped the victim, and said she “was so intoxicated when the suspect laid her on the bottom bunk bed, she rolled off the bed and fell onto the floor.”
Several UMKC Residential Life employees confirmed that if a resident is unconscious or unable to move under his or her own power, the protocol for a staff member on duty at the front desk is to contact campus police or higher level staff.
The unconscious person is to be left alone until help arrives. According to Residential Life protocol, the front desk staff is also supposed to check in any non-student visitors and hold their identification before entering.
It is unclear if these protocols were followed Friday morning.
Several Res-Life student employees also confirmed that their supervisors have not informed them of the incident, nor have they reviewed procedure in response to the allegations.
As of this publication, UMKC school officials have not notified faculty or students of the incident. UMKC campus police referred all inquiries about the case to the UMKC media relations department.
UMKC spokesman John Martellaro said UMKC police received a notification from the hospital about the incident last Saturday, Feb. 25. UMKC did not send out an alert because there was no imminent risk to the safety of students
“The crime was reported more than 24 hours after it occurred,” Martellaro said. “The suspect’s identity was known, and the individual was not on campus, so that situation did not call for an alert to be issued.”
The lack of communication from the University sparked criticism from many students living on campus, who say this decision left them in the dark.
“The school definitely has a responsibility to let us know what happened,” said Madison Worley, a freshman living in Johnson Hall.
“We’re all shocked,” said Worley. “And it’s more about the fact that we didn’t know. No one knew anything.”
Another student, Madison Lindemann, said she was surprised to learn about the incident through the local media.
“No one said anything other than the news articles, which I just saw this morning,” Lindemann said. “It feels like the school is trying to be politically correct or protect itself. They should’ve at least let us know they’re looking out for us.”
Sam Capkovic, also a UMKC student and Johnson Hall resident, agrees that the school could have handled the situation better. She said she hopes communication with students will improve in the coming days.
“Because we live here, we have a right to know,” Capkovic said. “The fact that I found out that someone who lives just a few doors down from me was raped—while I was home — and I had to find out about it from Fox 4 News instead of from the school, is messed up.”
In response to concerns about security at the dorms related to the incident, Martellaro said, “This is not necessarily a security issue because the victim went out willingly with the suspect. It was after socializing that she was taken advantage of, or raped, whatever you might call it.”