Breaking News Emails
A Brigham Young University sophomore claims she is being punished by her own school — for reporting to cops that she had been raped.
Madi Barney, 20, who has gone public with her allegations against the conservative Mormon-run school, told the Salt Lake Tribune that BYU is now blocking her from registering for classes and she has filed a sexual discrimination complaint with the feds.
A spokeswoman for the Provo, Utah-based university insisted that was not the case.
"While I cannot talk about an individual case, I can assure you that we would never put a hold on a student's registration because she reported her rape to the police," BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins told NBC News.
There was no immediate confirmation that Barney filed the complaint on Monday from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
“As a policy, we don’t confirm the receipt of complaints publicly,” an official there said.
Barney was allegedly raped in September during a date in her off-campus apartment by 39-year-old Nasiru Seidu, who has been arrested and charged with sexual assault, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Seidu had used a fake name, lied about his age, and did not tell Barney he was married, according the paper.
Two months later, Barney was notified that BYU has launched an Honor Code investigation into her.
BYU, which is a private school run by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, bars students under its Honor Code from, among other things, having premarital sex, same-sex dating, drinking alcohol — or even being in the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex.
It later turned out that the school got wind of the alleged rape after a Utah County sheriff's deputy named Edwin Randolph had turned over the police report to BYU.
"He knew that the victim in the case could receive disciplinary action based on the information contained within the report," prosecutors said in court records obtained by the paper.
Since Barney's ordeal began, nearly 75,000 people have signed an online petition asking that BYU give students who report being raped immunity from Honor Code investigations.
"I am a survivor of rape, and now BYU has put my academic future on hold due to their allegations that I broke the Honor Code in the circumstances of my assault," Barney said in the petition. "I want victims of sexual violence at BYU to have an immunity clause from the Honor Code so that they don’t feel afraid to report."
On Monday, BYU president Kevin Worthen insisted "we care deeply about the safety of our students."
"A victim of a sexual assault will never be referred to the Honor Code Office for being a victim of sexual assault," Worthen said in a statement. But, he added, "sometimes in the course of an investigation, facts come to light that a victim has engaged in prior Honor Code violations."