The assault happened in the early morning hours after a night of drinking games in 2012.
Yee Xiong was 20-year-old student at UC Davis at the time. Her attacker was a fellow student, someone she had considered a friend.
It would take two trials, both of which ended with hung juries, for Xiong to recoup some sense of justice, she told the Sacramento Bee.
Last week, following a plea deal, a judge sentenced Lang Her to one year in jail as well as five years’ probation, the paper reported. The 26-year-old — who pleaded no contest to a felony charge — will also be forced to register as a sex offender, undergo sex offender counseling and pay restitution to Xiong.
Xiong has said her struggle was as much about deflecting the shaming that followed the attack as it was about bringing her attacker to justice. Some, including Xiong’s own family, questioned why she ended up at a man’s home after drinking with friends. Others have questioned why she didn’t call police sooner.
Xiong responded to those critics by reading a powerful statement in a Yolo County courtroom last week. She began by saying that she does not “exist for anyone’s entertainment purposes or to fill in anyone’s curiosity.”
“Going over to a friend’s house never justifies someone getting raped,” she said. “Drinking with friends until drunk never justifies someone getting raped. Sleeping next to a friend in the same room never justifies someone getting raped.
And believe me when I say that those who believe that someone’s actions made them deserve rape are cowards and fools — just like Lang, including those who have continued to protect him.
That woman who was raped in 2012 could have been your daughter, sister, niece, aunt, and cousin.
Xiong accused Her of attacking her after she fell asleep at his house. She had several shots of vodka and multiple mixed drinks, she said, and fell asleep when she began to feel sick.
“At some point (Xiong) woke up to feeling intense pressure on her lower body and intense pain. … He was having sexual intercourse with her without her consent,” court documents cited by the Sacramento Bee said. “Her arms were pinned down by his, and she was unable to speak. She could not explain why. Shortly after she woke up, the defendant ceased the assault, pulled up her pants, and got into his bed.”
The next morning, Her drove Xiong to her apartment and then to UC Davis, where she had a class, according to the paper. Over the course of two trials, Xiong felt that her decision to get in a car with her attacker the morning after she was attacked discounted her allegations in the eyes of many male jurors.
Xiong has said the next morning she acted like nothing happened because she feared for her life. Within hours, she had filed a report through the Student Judicial Affairs at UC Davis.
“It didn’t matter if I was drunk or unconscious … Lang Her raped me,” she said last week. “And I don’t know why every question imaginable was asked, like: Why were you there in the first place? How much did you have to drink? What were you wearing? Why didn’t you call the cops? Why didn’t you walk home? Why didn’t you go knock on your friend’s door? Why didn’t you do anything right?!”
“Why is it that the burden is always on the victim to prove that a crime was committed against them, especially when sexual assault does not discriminate against age, race, gender, or orientation?”
“Do you ever wonder if victims of robbery ask to be robbed?” she added. “Was it because their business was too successful and it caused attention to itself for it to be robbed and vandalized? Do robbery victims go around asking people to rob them just for the attention? Of course not.”
Xiong said ignorant people will always find ways to discredit a woman’s ability to confront their perpetrators.
“During the investigation, Her’s story changed more than once,” the Sacramento Bee reported. “He went from claiming that nothing had happened on the night in question to saying that he and Xiong had kissed but that they had not had sexual intercourse. However, his DNA, from his semen, had been found in Xiong.”
“He had lied to investigators and denied having sexual contact with her because he was afraid he would get into trouble and it would ruin his life,” Yolo County probation officers wrote in a report cited by the paper.
The paper reported that Xiong eventually gathered the support of family and friends. When Her’s family offered to settle the dispute by arranging a marriage between attacker and victim, Xiong vehemently declined.
In her statement to the court, she said her suffering has extended beyond the physical act of being raped. Xiong said her health has deteriorated, she’s become socially anxious and battled weight gain. Even worse, she said, is that her struggle forced her to miss class. Some professors, she said, accused her of taking advantage of her plight.
A UC Davis spokesman confirmed for The Washington Post that Xiong was a student at the school, but declined to comment directly on her case citing privacy concerns. The spokesperson said Xiong’s statement to the court last week did not contain any inaccuracies from the school’s perspective.
“When I spoke with a professor to explain what could cause me to ‘check out’ in class, fall behind in class, or even fail to participate in class,” she said, “she told me that it was going to be my full responsibility to perform like I was never raped: as if it was as easy as a click of a button to switch gears and not stay depressed because I chose to be depressed — it wasn’t Lang’s action that caused me to be depressed. But it’s because of Lang’s actions that I’m here.”
She added that Her’s actions cost her a double degree and thousands of dollars in summer coursework “to play catch up.”
The Sacramento Bee reported that Xiong hopes to serve as an example to other rape victims seeking justice. After graduating from school, she started working with economically disadvantaged young people as a counselor.
Her struggle continues, she told the paper, but she is finally looking ahead.
“For some, I may come off as a loud, stubborn and opinionated woman of color, but it doesn’t make me vindictive; it makes me human,” she told the court.