SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (PIX11) — It may have recorded a sex crime, and now a video that’s gone viral among a group of Seton Hall University students is sparking soul searching in the community, while police look into the case.
“A lot of people are outraged by it,” said Frangely Rodriguez, a Seton Hall sophomore, about on-campus discussions of the video and its effects.
“Some people think it wasn’t a mistake, that she chose to do [a public sex act]. Some people think that it was [non-]consensual, so it’s a big debate,” Rodriguez said about the 12-second video being passed around by some students, and talked about by far more.
The video, according to NJ.com is of what appears to be a Seton Hall softball player bent over, while a man, who’s apparently not a student, engages in a sex act with her.
It happened at a party off-campus last month, and in the video, people can be heard cheering and laughing while the sex act takes place.
“It’s not her fault for being sexually assaulted,” another sophomore, who would not give her name, said. “But if her and her friends did nothing to stop it, then I can’t really say nothing about that.”
However, plenty of students at the university and in its neighboring community have much to say. They’re wondering if this is a case like the one in Steubenville, Ohio last year, in which two high school football players were convicted of raping a teenage girl at a party, and posting pictures online.
Steubenville high schooler Trenton Mays received a two-year juvenile prison sentence, and fellow student Ma’lik Richmond got a one-year sentence.
Contrast that with another case two months ago in Athens, Ohio, where a public sex act at the University of Ohio was captured on video and posted online, where it, too, went viral. Nobody has been arrested, and there’s no solid proof that it was non-consensual sex.
As for the Seton Hall case, “It’s kind of sad if her friends were there, and they didn’t stop it and they let it happen,” said Rodriguez, the Seton Hall sophomore. “I honestly feel bad for the girl.”
The young woman seen in the video told university officials about the November 16th incident. Seton Hall opened its own investigation, and directed her to South Orange police because the incident occurred off-campus.
The ongoing police investigation includes interviews with people who were at the party with the young woman. The South Orange Police Department has said it has not seen a copy of the video.
Whether or not the sex act captured in the video file was consensual, the university, which has closed its investigation, is frowning on the images being passed around.
“The recording or sharing of images of the alleged incident,” the university said in a statement, “is completely unacceptable and contrary to Seton Hall’s Catholic mission and commitment to fostering an academic and social environment where all students are respected.”
In any case, the whole situation is causing many of Seton Hall’s 5,200 students to take stock.
“I’m a junior,” said student Shelby Hall. “I’ve never heard anything about anything like that going on within the last three years. “I’m a little surprised, but it’s college. …I guess we’re not immune because we’re a Catholic school.”
S.A.V.E., Essex County’s rape crisis center, told PIX11 News that it has handled numerous cases of Seton Hall students being sexually abused, but that it could not comment about this specific case due to confidentiality restrictions.
The Essex County prosecutor’s office is the lead investigator in the case. It is not making comment.