Student reports rape, spends time in jail

By Phil Davis The Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. – A woman who told police she had been raped was jailed for two days after officers found an old warrant accusing her of failing to pay restitution for a 2003 theft arrest.

While she was behind bars, according to the college student’s attorney, a jail worker refused to give her a second dose of the morning-after contraceptive pill because of the worker’s religious convictions.

The 21-year-old woman was released Monday only after attorney Vic Moore reported her plight to the local media.

“Shocked. Stunned. Outraged. I don’t have words to describe it,” Moore said. “She is not a victim of any one person. She is a victim of the system. There’s just got to be some humanity involved when it’s a victim of rape.”

Moore said the woman was not allowed to take the second emergency contraceptive pill until Monday afternoon, a day late, after reporters called police and jail officials.

Tampa Police Chief Steve Hogue said the arrest led to a new policy Tuesday that tells officers not to arrest a crime victim who has suffered injury or mental trauma whenever “reasonably possible.” The agency also apologized to the student.

“Obviously, any policy that allows a sexual battery victim to spend a night in jail is a flawed policy,” police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

The woman is not being identified by The Associated Press because she reported being the victim of a sex crime.

Tampa attorney Jennifer D’Angelo, who represents the jail worker, said Tuesday that her client is prohibited from giving inmates any medication without specific orders. The worker insists she never discussed religion with the woman who reported being raped.

“She was mortified at what was being reported in the press,” said D’Angelo, who declined to identify the worker. “She’s frightened for her job and she’s frightened about community backlash about these allegations.”

The employee, who has worked for a jail health care contractor for about six months, was placed on administrative leave, D’Angelo said.

Moore said it was too soon to say if his client would sue. Her first priority was making sure detectives find her attacker.

“She is brave,” Moore said. “We are going to work with police to catch this monster.”

She was in Tampa on Saturday for an annual pirate-themed parade. She said she was walking alone to her car when a man pulled her behind a building and raped her, McElroy said.