"By you begging, it just made me think that you were actually sobering up and you were willing to let it happen," he said.
"I'm not trying to twist this to make you sound like the bad guy here," he said. "I made the decision to do this, whether you begged me or not."
S. Daniel Carter, director of Security on Campus Inc., a national nonprofit organization that helps make sure universities are compliant with federal crime reporting laws, said that the structure of West Virginia state code places an obligation on persons engaging in sex to determine if their partner is physically or mentally incapacitated.
"If they fail to do so," he wrote in an e-mail, "but continue anyway ... or even if they incorrectly assess the person's condition, there is still a crime."
Because Sara described herself as "incoherent" and that the man's pretext for taking her to his room was because she was drunk, the incident could be described as second- or third-degree sexual assault under state code - crimes that carry a potential 10- to 25-year prison sentence, Carter said after reviewing a transcript of the recording.
The problem is that while the law seems to properly define the crime, rape myths and societal biases still prevail in disciplinary proceedings, a fact that often softens criminal investigations in these cases, Carter said.
"Our institutions, including colleges and universities, need to do a better job of educating on these issues and what the law actually expects," he said.
"So long as individuals accused of sexual assault can simply claim they didn't know they were obligated to assess their partner's mental capacity, and often do so credibly, these injustices will continue as authorities or jurors will feel they didn't have the 'criminal intent' necessary to warrant a finding of responsibility or conviction."
'Marshall University police did everything possible'
On Feb. 2, Sara went to the Marshall police department with the recorder in hand, and told an on-duty officer that she had been raped.
The officer who made the report interrupted her when she told him that she had been drinking in the room the night of the rape to inform her that alcohol possession in the dorms was a violation of the student code of conduct.
For weeks afterward, neither Sara nor her father heard any word from the university about the case.
Sara wrote her phone number on a piece of paper every day, and handed it to a receptionist at the police department to give to James Terry, the university's police chief, but she said he never called.
Terry repeatedly has denied requests from the Gazette-Mail to be interviewed about this case and others involving on-campus assaults, including an alleged gang rape that was reported to have occurred in a Marshall dorm in September.
After a while, Sara's father began traveling to the department every day from his home near Charleston to speak with Terry, only to sit in the lobby for hours.
Terry sat down with Sara and her father in May, three months after the incident. He told them that security cameras in South Freshman Hall captured footage of the man carrying Sara to his dorm room the night of her rape, according to Sara's father.
Terry had a video recording from a local pharmacy, he told them, which showed the man buying Sara the emergency birth control pill, her father said.
Along with the voice recording, the evidence was more than enough to bring charges against the man, Terry allegedly told them.
A representative from the Cabell County prosecutor's office told the family that a grand jury would indict Sara's assailant later that month, Sara's father said.
"I was like, 'Finally, something's going to happen,'" he said.
The May 2009 grand jury session came and went. The man was not indicted. A representative from the prosecutor's office blamed Terry for not sending the evidence to court. Terry said he sent the evidence, and blamed the prosecutor's office for not presenting it during the indictment, according to Sara's father.
Prosecutors did take the case before the grand jury, Marshall University spokesman Matt Turner said, but the jury failed to indict.
"Marshall University police did everything possible to prosecute the alleged assailant," Turner said. "The university did not ignore the woman or her father and, in fact, with their cooperation, worked to prosecute the case."
Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Chiles confirmed that the case was "fully and completely presented to the grand jury."
Chiles said he is not ethically permitted to discuss what evidence had been presented. He would not comment on the validity of the evidence against Sara's alleged attacker, or why the grand jury did not return an indictment.
"I cannot look behind that," Chiles said. "I do not know why; it is not ethical or proper for me to ascertain why."
After the grand jury session, Sara's father continued to drive to Huntington every day to wait in the lobbies of the Marshall University police station and the county prosecutor's office, seeking an explanation as to why his daughter's alleged assailant could not be indicted.
Terry promised that he would personally present the evidence in another grand jury indictment in the following weeks, her father said. Again, the indictment came up empty.
Ready to give up
In the weeks after the alleged attack, the man accused of raping Sara would sit near her during lunch and stare at her, she said. Sara's father eventually started making trips to Marshall just to have lunch with her.
The constant traveling eventually took a toll on his contracting business. After the second round of grand jury indictments, he and Sara gave up hoping that university officials would follow through.
She moved out of her dorm. She slumped off the dean's list that semester, but decided to stay at Marshall despite everything that had happened. She didn't want to feel defeated.
Most of all, though, after months of bouncing from police officer to university official to prosecutor, the experience had worn her down, her father said.
"I kept seeing what it was doing to her," he said. "She couldn't tell the story one more time."
Reach Zac Taylorat Zachary.Tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.