Crime

Prosecutor explains why she dropped rape charges against UNCC student

Sexual misconduct involving college students remains at the heart of a national debate over due process, campus safety, the accuracy of crime statistics put out by schools, and how universities handle the reported cases.
Sexual misconduct involving college students remains at the heart of a national debate over due process, campus safety, the accuracy of crime statistics put out by schools, and how universities handle the reported cases. File

The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office dropped rape charges Friday against a UNC Charlotte student, citing insufficient evidence.

Joshua Arford, 18, was charged in February with assaulting a 19-year-old female student following an off-campus fraternity party where both had been drinking heavily. Assistant District Attorney Kristen Northrup said in a court filing Friday that she dismissed the second-degree rape charge after an investigation revealed she could not prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt – in part because of the female student’s statements about the incident.

According to Northrup’s filing, Arford and the other student met at the party, and spent the evening together consuming a “large quantity of alcohol,” eventually kissing.

They ended up at Arford’s dorm room where the victim – whose blood-alcohol level hours later was measured at .206, according to earlier court documents – told authorities she remembered having consensual sex. When she experienced discomfort, she told Arford to stop. She later told a nurse, “I believe he stopped, but I don’t know,” Northrup said in her filing.

Two days later, according to the statement, the female student told investigators that she believed she wanted to have sex with Arford then changed her mind. She was unable to say whether more intimate activity occurred once she told him to stop.

Northrup said the state lacks evidence that force occurred or that the victim was either “mentally incapacitated” or “physically helpless” to resist.

“We’re obviously very pleased. The district attorney did the right thing,” said Arford’s attorney, Adam Seifer of Charlotte. “This has already taken a toll on everybody involved, and Mr. Arford is ready to move on with his life.”

Sexual misconduct involving college students remains at the heart of a national debate over due process, campus safety, the accuracy of crime statistics compiled by schools, and how universities handle the reported cases.

In 2015 – the most recent year where statistics were immediately available – UNCC reported 12 rapes on its main campus, with all but one occurring at a residential facility.

When asked, Seifer would not say whether Arford intends to stay at the school.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

  Comments