It's not a word. It's a mistake, the confluence of the words "consensual" and "sexual," an apparent error uttered by a young man trying to keep his friend, his fraternity brother, out of trouble.
And he almost did. His bungled use of the most important term in the line that separates legal sex acts from rape was nearly enough to spoil the case.
As detailed in a mind-blowing story in the Star Tribune this past weekend, Abby Honold, a former University of Minnesota student, had to clear extraordinarily high hurdles to get charges brought against Daniel Drill-Mellum, a Waconia native, a fellow U of M student, and a fraternity member at Sigma Phi Epsilon.
As Honold would learn much later, her version of events was temporarily undone by a couple of Drill-Mellum's fellow frat members, who had recorded a phone call with Honold, and submitted it to the University of Minnesota police as exonerating evidence.
It's astonishing to think anyone could read the transcript of their conversation -- or watch the video, since published by the Minnesota Daily -- and have the slightest doubts about what Honold was saying had happened that night.
"He raped me a couple times," she says early in the taped phone call. Asked to repeat herself, she says again, and clearly, "He raped me a couple times."
This explanation doesn't sink in for the fraternity member, who seems to be receiving coaching from a second man. (When that "second man" is quoted below, he is always whispering to the first man, who then speaks directly to Honold.) The man on the phone tries to ask if she was a willing participant in sex.
Only instead of "consensual," he says "consexual," which helps explain why Honold thought he'd asked if they had "actual sex," and answered in the affirmative.
Eventually, the frat brothers conspire to remind Honold that Drill-Mellum, a management major, is "a great kid," and "a very smart kid" with "a lot going for him," and that Honold should think of the consequences of turning him in to the police.
She says she knows. She waited a good "20 minutes" before calling 911, and only did so when she learned Drill-Mellum had previously raped another student.
Those "consequences," long after the fact? Last month, Drill-Mellum pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual assault, and was sentenced to six years in prison.
We've reprinted in full the conversation between Honold and the two (anonymous) fraternity brothers below.
According to Honold, one of the two young men liked to "brag about how he called me and got everything dropped."
Honold: -- wanted to come with me and they wanted to stay. And he said "It's fine, we'll be right back."
Honold: And then I kind of blacked out and left. And I remember, he was taking my clothes off, and then, he raped me a couple times.
Man: He what?
Honold: He raped me a couple times. And then I said, "I want to go back to my friends." He wouldn't let me go back to my friends. Eventually I got out, and got dressed. I think I probably left some stuff there. But I called 911 because I was just scared.
Man: Yeah. Now, did you (unintelligible whispering from second man) so you went back. I mean, he didn't like grab you, and bring you back to his place?
Honold: No. He just lied about why we were going there.
Man: So he kind of trapped you.
Honold: Yeah, he just said we were going to go grab more alcohol, 'cause he was out, and wanted somebody to come with him.
Man: OK, so then you came back, and he -- now, did you guys have ____
Man: You did.
Man: Yeah, I mean, this is obviously --
Second man: (whispering) "I'm sorry."
Man: -- I'm sorry about this whole situation, Abby. I know this is scary. This is just a shitty situation, because, this is huge. Dan could potentially be in a lot of trouble for this. So I'm just trying to get our bearings about what happened. Have you told your roommates, your parents about this whole situation?
Honold: Yeah. A lot of people ended up finding out--
Honold: -- because when I came out I was crying a lot --
Honold: -- and there were a lot of people on the sidewalk --
Honold: -- so, it kind of, drew attention.
Man: So you called the cops, and the cops came right away. And they just came, and he was still in the apartment?
Honold: Yeah, well I didn't know what apartment he was. I just -- remembered running out, and I didn't look what apartment it was. So, one of my friends knew him --
Honold: -- and he was like, "I'll call him and find out." And [Drill-Mellum] said to my friend, he goes, "Come cuddle." Like, "I'm just in bed right now." And then told them the apartment number, and then the police went up and arrested him.
Man: OK. OK.
Honold: The whole reason I called is that the same friend who called [Drill-Mellum], he said that right after I had left with him, he had put up, like a Snap[chat] story with Dan in it. And one of his friends had texted him saying, "Be careful, he raped me last year. Don't let anyone go anywhere alone with him."
Honold: And so they started panicking, wondering where I was. And then, that's when I came back outside.
Man: And then that happened.
Man: OK. (Sighs.)
Honold: So, I didn't know that. I didn't know anything about him. So.
Second man: (whispering) Does she remember having sex with him?
Man: Do you remember having sex with him?
Honold: I remember certain things. And I remembered a lot more yesterday, and that's because I talked to (unintelligible) right after. But, um, he also gagged me with his fingers, and stuff --
Man: He what?
Honold: It wasn't, like, a miscommunication kind of thing, I guess is what I'm trying to say.
Man: He forced it.
Honold: He was violent about it. Yeah, I have a lot of injuries. So.
Honold: I know it's hard to think about. I don't know what would happen if I heard something like that about one of my roommates, or, I don't know.
Man: Yeah. OK. Alright, well, I appreciate you calling me. Um, I might call back with some more information, potentially, if that's OK with you.
Man: This is shitty. And I'm sorry for what happened, um. I just want to tell you Dan is a great kid, he's a very smart kid, has a lot going for him. What he did obviously, from what you explained, is terrible. But I do want you to think about what the consequences with him, and his future, regarding this whole drunk situation, blacked-out situation.
Man: I'm not mad by any means. I'm not saying, I'm not telling you to do anything, I just want you to think about what his situation's going to be if this happens.
Honold: No, I did. And it took me like 20 minutes to call 911. But when I heard he'd done it to somebody else I knew I had to say something.
Man: And who is, can I get a name of when -- who this person is? Of who he--
Honold: I'm not sure, because I don't know her. But she talked to police, also.
Man: She did.
Honold: My friend gave them her information.
Man: OK. Well thank you. Thank you. Um. I'll, uh, maybe give you a call later or something. And I'm sorry about this.
Honold: Thank you.
Man: Alright, thanks Abby.
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