Selby had history of “vindictive, destructive” behavior before sexual battery charge

University administration failed to protect community from Selby, even after reported incidents


Selby jumps on a car hood as a bystander urges him to stop. Photo courtesy of Dec. 2, 2021 video obtained by the Phi from an anonymous source

Bri Hatch, Jenny Hellwig, and Shauna Muckle

TW: This story contains discussions about sexual assault, substance abuse, violence, racism, homophobia and sexism. 

Daniel Selby, who pled guilty to sexual battery Feb. 3 after months of law enforcement investigation and subsequently left the university, has a history of violent behavior, threats and substance abuse, members of his former fraternity said.
Students in Selby’s former fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, claimed that Selby assaulted another resident of the house and jumped on his car on Dec. 2, 2021. They also said that Selby, a former member of the class of 2025, threatened both individuals and the fraternity as a whole. And a student said Selby punched him in the face in early 2021.
Still, the university allowed Selby to return this fall after taking a semester off in winter 2022, despite knowledge of at least one incident.
Washington and Lee’s Department of Public Safety refused to share any incident reports with the Phi, citing a request by university communications. Multiple members of the administration declined to comment on the case. The students involved in violent incidents at Selby’s hands requested anonymity due to fear of retaliation.

I heard Dan Selby was coming back, and I was like, ‘Oh, no.’

— former fraternity member

Selby first abruptly left campus at the end of fall term 2021, a few days after his Dec. 2 altercation with a fellow fraternity member. Pi Kappa Alpha (colloquially known as Pike) waited to remove Selby from the organization until winter 2022, after he had left campus, one member said.
“He was vindictive,” the fraternity member said. “We were worried about retaliation against anyone who was involved in that decision, or any sort of other threat towards either an individual or the fraternity in general.”
It is unclear whether Selby withdrew or if the university removed him. No one could confirm where Selby was during his semester-long absence in winter term 2022. But by fall term that same year, he was back on campus.
On Sept. 9, the second day of classes, court records show, Selby committed a sexual offense that resulted in a criminal misdemeanor charge of sexual battery.
Lexington police arrested him for the offense on Sept. 21, 2022. Selby was released from jail on bond that same night, according to court documents, and he continued to attend classes until Feb. 3, when he pled guilty to the offense.

A timeline listing events of Dan Selby's time at Washington and Lee. All events are listed in the story.
A string of violent incidents preceded Selby’s final departure from campus in February 2023, members of his former fraternity revealed. Washington and Lee allowed Selby to re-enroll in fall 2022 despite knowledge of at least one of those incidents, according to multiple members’ accounts. Graphic by Bri Hatch

Selby’s “destructive” behavior worried fraternity members – and harmed students

Selby experienced such severe substance abuse issues during his time on campus that one fraternity member turned to university administration for support multiple times, including asking how to enroll Selby in the Washingtonian Society, two sources with knowledge of the matter confirmed.
“This doesn’t excuse his behavior, by the way, but I’m just saying that he’s definitely one of those people who, when he drinks, he just completely loses control,” one fraternity member said. “And when he loses control, he engages in very destructive – both to himself and others – behavior.”
But the fraternity member, who was close friends with Selby at one point, said the school did not help.
“They actually made the situation worse at one point,” he said. “We were asking in terms of health options, like the Washingtonian Society. They turned it into this disciplinary thing. And it made the situation worse, because then it was like Dan Selby versus fraternity.”
Joe Jackson, ’23, who was president of Pike at the time, said the fraternity initiated Selby during spring term 2021. Selby was a first-year at the time.
“He was an intelligent guy, and fun to be around. We thought that he would be a good fit and potentially could have been a good leader,” one member said. “I think substance abuse issues just really took over his life. We did what we could to intervene, but weren’t able to do anything.”
Selby sat on the Student Judicial Council during fall term of his freshman year. By spring term, he no longer served on the body. Current SJC President Naveed Javid, ’23, said Selby’s tenure occurred before his time on the body, so he could not provide more details.
Jackson confirmed that the full chapter took a vote to remove Selby at the beginning of winter term 2022. He said Selby was removed due to an altercation with another Pike member that resulted in significant property damage.
Two Pike members, who witnessed part of the altercation, said they saw Selby repeatedly jumping on the hood of another member’s car, damaging the vehicle. A member reported the incident to the university shortly after it happened, the two sources confirmed.
The Phi obtained a video of Selby jumping on the car. The video was dated Dec. 2, 2021.
One of the students said that he saw bruises and physical marks on the other fraternity member’s body after his confrontation with Selby. That student then transferred because of the incident, sources close to the victim confirmed. The Phi was able to confirm that he currently attends another university.
Jackson said Selby appealed his removal at the beginning of winter term 2023, but the decision was upheld unanimously.
One of the Pike members said he heard Selby make frequent racist remarks, including saying the n-word, and use homophobic slurs. Another said he heard Selby make sexist comments.

Selby’s downgraded sentence – two nights in jail

Selby is no longer enrolled at Washington and Lee as of Wednesday, Feb. 8, a university spokesperson said. A source with knowledge of the matter said Selby claimed he left of his own accord. He moved out of his campus residence by Tuesday, Feb. 7, the source confirmed.
Selby did not respond to multiple requests for comment by the time of publication.
President Will Dudley, Deans Sidney Evans and Megan Hobbs and Director of Residence Life Chris Reid all declined to comment on the case. Dudley, Evans and Hobbs directed questions to Drewry Sackett, Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs.
Sackett issued a statement Tuesday addressing the case.
“The university is committed to fostering a climate free from sexual misconduct through clear and effective policies, a coordinated education and prevention program, and prompt and equitable procedures for resolution of complaints that are accessible to all,” Sackett said in an email.
Selby was originally sentenced to one year in jail, with all but four days suspended on condition of good behavior. He served a total of two nights in jail – one the day of his arrest, Sept. 21, 2022, and one on Feb. 3, according to the Rockbridge Regional Jail’s records division. He returned to campus Saturday, Feb. 4, the Phi previously reported.
While Selby was initially charged with felony object sexual penetration, his sentence was downgraded to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery, the Phi reported.
Megan Zwisohn, the Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney for Rockbridge County and Lexington, said in Virginia, jail sentences for misdemeanors are halved. That’s why Selby spent two nights, not four, in jail, she said.
Zwisohn said she gave Selby the maximum sentence in Virginia for a misdemeanor, 12 months, despite understanding much of that time would be suspended, to ensure he must remain on “good behavior” for the longest period possible. Notably, Selby will also have to avoid contact with the victim for one year starting Feb. 3, 2023, she said.
The victim’s name was listed on court documents, but the Phi does not publish victims’ names as a matter of protection. The name does not match a listing in the student directory, according to a Phi search.

The specter of sexual misconduct on campus

At a meeting Feb. 7, Executive Committee President James Torbert read aloud a statement the body first released in 2020 addressing the EC’s role in sexual misconduct cases.
“Although the EC considers sexual discrimination and misconduct deplorable, we do not hear cases involving sexual harrassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, domestic and dating violence, stalking, or retaliation,” Torbert said. “In recognition of the sensitive nature of misconduct cases, the university has created the Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board, a board specifically designated and designed to adjudicate such matters in compliance with federal law.”
The Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Board is not student-led like the EC or the SJC. The board is composed of eight staff members and a law school dean. Title IX Coordinator Lauren Kozak and Deans Jason Rodocker and Tamara Futrell are investigators for the board, along with Hobbs, who refused to comment on this case.
Washington and Lee is not routinely alerted by local law enforcement on pending criminal cases involving students, Sackett told the Phi Feb. 15. But law enforcement does sometimes coordinate with the university when executing arrests. It’s unclear if the school knew of Selby’s arrest
Melina Bell, a professor of philosophy and law, said questions linger for her.
“I find it very disheartening that [Selby] was on campus for those months [during law enforcement’s investigation] without some kind of process to protect the public being put in place,” Bell said. “If there was one, it would be very comforting to know what it is.”
The Virginia Department of Social Services website lists “sexual battery” as a charge that places offenders on the state’s Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. Bell said that’s a small solace for the victim.
Bell also pointed to statistics published by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network showing that 20% of female college-age victims of sexual abuse report offenses to the police. Only 50 out of 1,000 sexual assaults result in an arrest.
“In my experience, the biggest thing working against stopping sexual violence against women in college is women don’t feel entitled to seek justice when they’re not being respected, when their consent is not being sought,” Bell said. “We’re raised to empathize with men. I think the biggest thing for women is to have the courage [Selby’s] victim did and say, ‘No, what you did was wrong, and I’m going to the police, and you’re going to get in trouble.’”