Police: East Quad rape unfounded

Police found no evidence that a woman was raped near the East Quadrangle in February and closed the case, but they decided not to send an update students, an official said.

Investigators decided to close the case in June after the woman who reported it gave them inconsistent details and failed a polygraph test; about 50 people who were in the area during the alleged rape said they didn’t see anything suspicious.

It was closed officially in August, and an online alert about the incident was deleted from the USC police website. Scott Prill, associate director of the Division of Law Enforcement and Safety, said in an email that students were not notified because so much time had passed.

“We would not normally update a crime alert after such a long period of time,” he said.

A report on the investigation was released late Friday afternoon, more than two weeks after The Daily Gamecock requested it. Prill said the delay owed to legal review and redactions by USC police, the State Law Enforcement Division and the circuit solicitor’s office.

“This was a very complex case and there needed to be a very thorough and deliberate review,” Prill said.

Police sent “numerous items” including a rape kit, to SLED for analysis, but investigators did not find evidence of an assault, according to the report.

The report says SLED found “probable drug use” by the victim, including marijuana that was likely laced with methanol, which can produce hallucinations similar to LSD.

But, Prill said, “It cannot be proven that she was hallucinating.”

The incident, which was said to have happened around midnight Feb. 19, was reported to students in a Carolina Alert text message later that day.

The unidentified woman told police she was taken in a choke hold outside the dorm and assaulted between the building and Blossom Street. According to the report, each time she talked to investigators, she told them her abduction had started in a different place — three times in all.

The woman has not been charged with lying to police, Prill said, because the investigation did not find she intentionally lied.

The incident was also being treated as an armed robbery, because the woman said the man took $50 and her cell phone and she said she feared he was armed.

SLED tracked the phone down at a Boost Mobile store in Columbia, found the person who took it to the store and then talked to a homeless man that person bought it from, according to the report. Neither was related to the assault.

The armed robbery investigation was closed after investigators ran out of leads “without getting a direct answer as to how the homeless man ended up with the victim’s cell phone” and the man passed a polygraph test.

Originally published in The Daily Gamecock, Oct. 1, 2013