The Mariposa Center for Change is also standing up for "Laya," the female UCLA graduate student who accused her ex-boyfriend Cheng of sexual battery last year. The center's statement, which includes a new quote from the alleged victim, follows.
The Mariposa Center for Change stands with Laya as she bravely speaks out against her attacker, Jesse Cheng, UC student regent, who was charged on Nov. 4, 2010, for sexual battery. Cheng, who was recently lauded as a "leader of student activists" by the Huffington Post, admitted to sexually assaulting Laya in his off-campus apartment on Oct. 3. The Mariposa Center for Change condemns Cheng's actions and the actions of the Orange County district attorney's office who have not taken any action at this time. In fact, the DA's office reports they have no records of any case under Cheng's name (according to the New UniversityNewspaper).
About 1 out of 5 college women will be sexually assaulted, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Sixty-five percent of rapes go unreported, and 90 percent of those who are raped know the perpetrator. In most of these cases, even when the university prosecutes, rapists are able to appeal and get reduced penalties. For example, in some universities, expulsion may be appealed. In some cases of expulsion, students might even be able to re-enroll. More disturbing is that universities go out of their way to suppress reports of sexual assaults and rape.
Each year, about 4,000 U.S. college students report to their university that they have been sexually assaulted. The Center for Public Integrity and NPR's investigative unit teamed up to examine how universities respond to reports of sexual assault on campus. They found that months, sometimes years pass before universities respond, even though universities are responsible, according to the Jeanne Clery Act, to investigate and punish these crimes. A similar Dateline NBCinvestigation found that women were discouraged by university officials to move forward with their claims.
The fact that Cheng is a UC student regent raises even greater doubts as to whether the UC system will punish one of their own. Executive Director of the Mariposa Center for Change, Ivy Quicho, said, "We are concerned that there has been no response from the DA's office or no decision from the University of California, Irvine's Student Conduct Office. These actions point to a lack of urgency to address the attack of a student, at best, and a blatant cover-up to protect a UC student regent, at worst."
Despite Laya's fear and anxiety to talk about what happened to her, she is unwavering in her commitment to the truth. "I knew I had to say something," she said to the Mariposa Center for Change. "What if he did this to someone else? He has to be held accountable." Laya continues to tell her story even as she faces intimidation and victim blaming. The Mariposa Center for Change demands Justice for Laya and invites others to attend a community meeting on Feb. 17, 2011, at the UCI Campus Cross Cultural Center at 6 p.m. Those interested should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mariposa Center for Change is a nonprofit center dedicated to investigating, codifying and implementing the theory and practice of an activist feminism for immigrant-based, transnational communities. We work with women and children and aim to improve social, political and economic conditions and end inequality through an empowered sisterhood, transformative programming, grassroots organizing and strategic alliances.
Meanwhile, there are rumors swirling around campus that Cheng tried to kill the New University story that exposed his arrest and threatened to sue the student newspaper. Managing editor Traci Garling Lee, who wrote the piece with editor David Gao, would not confirm or deny that for the Weekly because all conversations they had with Cheng before publication were off the record.
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