Kailey Love | editor-in-chief
On Jan. 4, Allegheny County prosecutors dropped all sex-related charges against Nick Washington, a former Duquesne basketball player who was suspended from the university after he was accused of raping a female University of Pittsburgh student in his dorm room in early September 2017, his freshman year.
Originally charged with criminal counts of rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and unlawful restraint, the plea deal accepted by the district attorney’s office allowed for the dismissal of the first four counts, and amended the charge of unlawful restraint to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Common Pleas Judge Alexander P. Bicket ordered Washington to serve 12 months probation, with no travel restrictions placed upon him, and ordered that Washington should have “no contact whatsoever” with the victim.
Washington, a 21 year old from San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a business administration major at Duquesne on an academic scholarship in addition to being on the basketball team prior to his suspension. He had no previous criminal history, according to statements made by his lawyers during the hearing.
Robert Del Greco, who represented Washington, referred to his client as having had “his life on hold for a year and a half” due to the allegations and criminal charges.
“Nick Washington is relieved and elated over this favorable outcome,” Del Greco said in a statement. “He is also eager to resume his academic aspirations.”
According to the criminal complaint, the alleged incident between Washington and a Pitt student occurred on the evening of Sept. 1, 2017, when the victim met Washington at a party where she said he “showed interest in her.” The victim and a friend then went back to Duquesne’s campus with Washington and one of his friends. Here the victim and her friend were separated when she asked Washington for a phone charger and followed him to his room to plug her phone in, the complaint said.
Once in his dormitory, Washington allegedly ordered the victim to perform oral sex on him, and when she refused, he forced her to do so anyway. He then pushed her onto her back on his bed and forcefully engaged in intercourse with her, according to the victim’s statement in the criminal complaint. The statement also said that the victim asked Washington to stop several times, all of which he allegedly ignored, and the assault only stopped when the victim received a text from her friend.
During a preliminary hearing in January 2018, Washington’s lawyers contended that the episode that occurred between the two was consensual.
Following the summary on Monday, Washington’s accuser was given the chance to read her victim-impact statement, an emotional account in which she divulged how the incident impacted her life.
Describing her testimony as “the most difficult thing I have ever had to do” the victim said, “I wasn’t going to go through with this at first, and when asked why, the first words that came out of my mouth were that I didn’t want to ruin someone’s life the way you ruined mine … I didn’t want to damage someone the way I was damaged.”
The Duke does not name victims of sexual assault.
Washington’s accuser went on to describe how after her encounter with Washington, she transferred to a new school in a different state, giving up a full scholarship to distance herself from the setting where the alleged rape took place.
She also detailed rapid weight loss and fear of leaving her dorm room to go to classes immediately following the incident, further accusing Washington of “taking away her will to live.”
“You are a rapist, and you will always have to live with that,” the victim said in her testimony, directed at Washington. “Love conquers all in this world, and that is one thing you do not have.”
The victim also had harsh words for the justice system.
She said that the only reason she agreed to the plea deal was because it was implied to her that once she realized Washington was interested in her, “I should have run away. As if putting myself alone in the room with a male automatically implies consent.”
In the 2018 preliminary hearing she was questioned about consensual interactions that occurred between the two at the party where they met, as well as what she was wearing, which she referenced in her testimony on Monday.
“You can’t hurt me anymore,” she said. “You can’t shove my voice back down my throat a second time.”