A college student’s story has caused a push for legislative change after her rapist’s charge was acquitted and expunged earlier this year.
According to Buzz Feed News, Abigail Finney, 20, fell asleep alone in her boyfriend’s dorm in February 2017 but was awaken by someone fondling her from behind. Without turning over to see a face, she assumed it was her boyfriend and the two began to have sex. Afterward, she got up and went to the bathroom.
When she returned, she was surprised to see her boyfriend’s friend lying in the bed. She began to panic.
“I remember him grinning at me. It was a freaky image. I was just kind of – I was frantic. I didn’t know what was going on.”
The Purdue University student discovered that her boyfriend had left to go sleep in her bed hours ago to get more comfortable. The man she’d just had sex with was Donald Grant Ward.
After the incident, Finney texted a group of friends stating how she felt confused and “violated.”
According to Buzz Feed News, Finney reported the incident and took the case to court, but by the end of the trial, she felt her efforts had been wasted. She learned that in nearly 40 states, including Indiana, rape by fraud isn’t a crime. Her abuser walked free.
“I was pretty angry. I felt like I’d wasted a year of my life because I could’ve been trying to heal, but instead I was reopening the wound over and over again. My therapist even called the trial a second trauma, so I guess I felt like I had done all that for no reason.”
At some point, Grant was banned from campus. Finney believes he transferred to a new school.
Leslee Finney, the victim’s mom, noted a drastic change in her daughter’s behavior following the incident
“She had terrible anxiety. She would have nightmares and she would wake up screaming. She just became withdrawn and sad. She never laughed or smiled or anything like that anymore.”
Finney dropped out of school for a semester to deal with stress and depression but has since returned.
Despite her disappointment in the verdict, Finney’s case caught the attention of lawmakers and activists, who are now fighting for change regarding sexual assault laws.
Sally Siegrist, the Republican representative of Tippecanoe County in the state legislature, said:
“I never want another victim of rape to have their rapist go free just because of a loophole in our state statute. That’s not acceptable. We write the laws to protect our citizens. Our law did not protect Abi.”
Activist and sexual assault victim, Joyce Short demands that lawmakers clearly define what consent is to establish better laws.
“You change morality when you change the laws.”
As Buzz Feed News reports, Finney and her boyfriend are still together. After she graduates, she intends to move far from Indiana.