Open sexual assault case at TSU not closed in more than a year

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Tennessee State University police sergeant found three students in a car in the parking lot of Mary Wilson Hall in the early morning hours of Nov. 20, 2014.

According to a TSU incident report obtained by News 2, Sergeant Lewis Lawrence drove up on the car and spotted an unconscious female in the back seat.

A man was having sex with her while another man was seated in the front seat.

In the report, Sgt. Lewis noted that the female was “very intoxicated and passed out during this sex act.”

MORE: Officer in open TSU sex assault is former Metro cop with multiple infractions

The officer woke the 18-year-old woman, who told the officer she was “having consensual sex with her boyfriend.”

However, police called an ambulance to the parking lot to take the woman to General Hospital’s emergency room because of her level of intoxication. At the hospital, a rape kit was administered.

According to a Metro Nashville Police Department incident report that was taken as a matter of record, officers were sent to General Hospital “in reference to a sexual assault on the victim.”

When an officer arrived at the hospital, they were told that the incident happened on TSU’s campus and that Detective Tommy Phelps would be the lead investigator.

The report said a complaint number was given to Detective Phelps in reference for the Medical Legal Exam (MLE), also known as a rape kit, which would be processed for the victim.

However, according to records obtained from MNPD, the rape kit was not submitted to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation by Detective Phelps.

A Metro detective found and submitted the rape kit five months later while picking up other kits from General Hospital.

In an email from the TBI to the MNPD detective dated April 20, 2015, the detective explained that he was not working the case and he forwarded the email to Detective Phelps.

The detective wrote, “I just submitted the MLE to you as a courtesy to TSU, beyond that I have no connection to this case.”

In another email sent from the MNPD detective to Detective Phelps, he attached a report from the TBI about the case.

The TBI told News 2 they processed the kit in April and completed the process in May 2015.

Beyond that, TBI Spokeswoman Susan Niland wrote in an email, “When we issue a report, we don’t have a way of knowing if or when an agency views it.”

News 2 contacted TSU’s public information officer Emmanuel Freeman multiple times for comment on the incident. An interview with TSU Police Chief Anthony Carter and TSU President Glenda Glover was also requested.

Freeman told News 2 in an email dated Nov. 24, 2015 that the incident was an “open investigation.”

However, when News 2 spoke to the woman involved in the incident via phone, she said as far as she knew the case had been resolved.

News 2 also reached out to the two men in the car with her, including the man described as her boyfriend in the incident report. Our phone calls were not returned by the publishing of this article.

Both MNPD and the Davidson County District Attorney’s office said they are not involved in the investigation of this incident.

Furthermore, the DA’s office did not know about it until News 2 sent them a copy of the TSU incident report.

According to the incident report, the students were charged with underage drinking.

The male student who the report states was having sex in the backseat was also cited with a student referral for indecent exposure.

The man in the front seat was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession. That case was later dismissed with him paying court costs, according to the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk’s office.

News 2 checked on the background of Detective Phelps. He is not a POST-certified officer with TSU and is classified as a “security officer.”

In an email, Freeman said, “His duties also include conducting investigations at the direction of authorized TSUPD personnel.”

News 2 is waiting to find out when TSU will complete their investigation and if any of the students will be charged with a sex crime.

We are not naming any of the students to protect their privacy and because no one has been charged with a sex crime in connection with this case.

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