Gay male claims he was drugged and raped

[Editor's Note - O&AN is not publishing this victim's name in accordance with the newspaper's policy to not identify victims of sexual assault.]

A Middle Tennessee man was allegedly raped earlier this month, and he says that Franklin Police were antagonistic when he first reported the incident.

The victim says he was drugged by an acquaintance he met on Grindr. He described the man, who identified as HIV positive during their meeting, as a white male in his late twenties to early thirties, 5'7" to 5'8" tall, with a thin build and short dark hair.

After a few conversations on the popular mobile application, they exchanged contact information and agreed to meet in person at Green Hills Mall on the afternoon of Dec. 17.

"I thought it was all nonchalant. I told him I had a boyfriend," he says. "I never tried to hide my partner. So I actually felt good. I thought this is someone that you could talk to or someone you can vent to, and someone you could just hang out with."

The two men then decided to drive to Cool Springs Galleria and shopped at a few stores before dining at Logan's Roadhouse. After he finished his meal, the victim remembers leaving the table and feeling "lightheaded and giggly." 

The next few hours were a blur. He regained consciousness in his car in Green Hills around 7 p.m. with little recollection of what happened.

With a friend's assistance, he was then treated with HIV and STD preventive medicine at Southern Hills Hospital and released early on Dec. 18.

On Dec. 19 he went to the Franklin Police Department and filed a report on the crime. He calls it a "degrading and humiliating" experience, and says that detectives made him feel that he deserved to be abused.

"Just going to the police station was degrading and humiliating," he says. "With the questions they asked and how they were worded, I just felt nasty. I'm not saying he was a homophobe, but just the way he went about (the questioning process) was uncomfortable."

"It would be improper for our agency to comment on (the) case," says Sgt. Charles Warner of the Franklin Police Department's public affairs office.

Many rape victims are too afraid or too ashamed to go to police, and the attitudes of law enforcement are more common in a conservative area such as Williamson County, says Patricia Snyder, the victim's attorney.

"I'm not surprised at the treatment he received," Snyder says. "We must accept the reality that a gay man can be victimized sexually just as a straight female can. With same-sex rape, count on their victims being so mortified and embarrassed that they won't come forward."

She adds, "I think the whole thing is a prime example of re-victimization of rape victims. The same attitude that female prostitutes can not be raped because they 'ask for it.'

The victim speculates that his acquaintance drugged him so that he would not resist sexual assault. Police are awaiting a toxicology report that will determine if date-rape drugs were in the victim's system.

A surveillance tape acquired by the Franklin Police Department shows that the victim visited Kohl's in Cool Springs with his attacker. The victim is seen occupying a dressing room for nearly 8 minutes. His attacker is visible in other parts of the footage.

Although his memory is vague, the victim recalls startling and vivid images of the attack.

"I remember him pulling my pants down, and then he was saying how he was going to (ejaculate)," he says. "I don't know if I pushed him away or elbowed him, but I did something. I know that he left, and then he came back. I don't remember the time period, but then I remember wiping (ejaculate) off the floor."

No arrests have been made in the case, which is in the process of being transferred to Metro Nashville police, at the victims request and concern over where the alleged rape occurred.

The victim says it's been difficult to find support since the incident. His boyfriend has broken up with him as a result of the incident, and his medical bills total almost $1,900.

While the case is under investigation, the victim urges members of the gay community to take extra precautions. He hopes this story will create an open dialogue about such a sensitive issue.

"My goals are to be healthy and to speak out about things like this," he says. "I'm hoping that I will feel better and heal if I open up and talk. I want to stand up for something. I want to be a part of the solution and not the problem."

Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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