He was in his car, heading home after visiting with a friend, when his phone rang around three o’clock on a Saturday morning. He glanced at the screen. Frowned, slightly puzzled. Why would Vicky be calling him, especially at this time of night? He hardly knew her. He flipped his phone open to find out.
A thick, barely audible voice begged, “Come get me,” and left an address before the line went dead. He knew what that meant.
It took him some time to find the location. It was on an unfamiliar street in a different part of town, and he had no GPS to guide him. As he approached, it became clear by the large number of cars parked outside that he was in the right place. And that his hunch had been correct. This was an off-campus frat house, and there was a party going on.
He parked as close to the home as possible so he could make a fast getaway, then sauntered in as if he belonged there. In spite of the adrenaline flowing through his veins, he didn’t want to arouse suspicions by moving too quickly or appearing too alert. He had to look like he fit in. Casual yet confident. At least a little tipsy.
He scanned the faces as he slowly passed from room to room, nodding and exchanging greetings as if he knew the partiers personally. Seeing only men increased his alarm.
He found his way to the bedrooms and began opening doors. Hit the jackpot on the third one. Vicky. Barely conscious, she lay on the bed, thankfully still fully clothed. Three naked young men stood around her, teasing her and laughing.
He lost no time. Pushed two of the men aside before they realized, in their stoned condition, what was happening. Grabbed Vicky, picking her up off the bed to carry her away, just as the third man grunted, “Huh?” and swung an awkward punch in his direction. Even with his arms full, he had no trouble dodging it.
He was out the bedroom door, down the hallway, through the living room, in the front yard, across the street, and gently placing Vicky in his car by the time the drunken frat brothers began to react. Vicky had passed out by then.
He drove her back to her sorority house where he was greeted as a hero.
What had happened before he had arrived at that party? The fraternity had invited Vicky’s sorority over for the first time. The brothers wanted to meet the sisters and decide whether or not to continue getting together in the future. Unsuspecting, the women accepted the invitation. They didn’t know that the men had a more sinister plan.
At some point in the evening, the frat silently and mutually selected Vicky. They continued partying into the wee hours of the morning. But when the sorority decided it was time to go, the plan was put into motion. Vicky was “herded.” One after another, the men nonchalantly stepped between her and the other women, slowly and imperceptibly separating her from her safety net.
The sisters were supposed to be using the buddy system to prevent this kind of situation from occurring, but it didn’t work out that way. Then, before any fear could kick in, one of the brothers slipped a date rape drug into Vicky’s drink. Illegal in the United States but available in Mexico, the undetectable substance would guarantee not only that Vicky would be unable to protest or fight back, but also that her memory would be erased from the time it took effect.
They could gang rape her and she couldn’t resist them.
They could gang rape her and she could never report it.
They could gang rape her and she could never file any charges.
They could gang rape her and she could never testify against them.
The perfect crime.
But Vicky was luckier than most young women in this situation. Somehow, after the drug had begun to affect her mind and body, she realized what was happening. Somehow she managed to get away, probably into a bathroom, and place the call from her phone. Somehow, out of the numerous entries in her contact list, she chose the one belonging to the Christian student at the public university, the one person she could be sure would be sober and yet still awake, the one who could come to her rescue in time.
This is a true story from several years ago. Still badly shaken, the student told me about it the following day. The sorority sisters reported the incident to the police. But our hero had moved so quickly to get Vicky to safety that he wasn’t sure if he could identify the three main perpetrators in the case. And had a crime actually been committed? No one could prove that it had. The only evidence, the date-rape drug, had passed out of Vicky’s bloodstream before any testing could be done.
Just a few days prior, I was reading an article in a Christian magazine about the increasing difficulty of hosting Christian organizations on public college campuses. Near the end of the article, a leader from one of these groups had voiced her frustration with the latest crop of lawsuits and regulations. She wondered whether the time had come for all Christians to abandon any effort to attend a public school, from the elementary level through college.
I suspect that Vicky and her friends would beg the believers to stay.
Cover image by Margarida Afonso.