The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Former first-year pleads guilty to rape

Ricardo Vergara’s sentencing hearing is set for April 8
Former first-year pleads guilty to rape

A former Washington and Lee first-year pleaded guilty Dec. 13 in Rockbridge County Circuit Court to the rape of a fellow student that took place on campus earlier this year.

Ricardo Vergara, a former member of the class of 2026, admitted to one rape charge as part of a plea deal. He had originally faced three charges—two felonies and one misdemeanor. Judge Christopher Russell set a sentencing hearing for April 8.

Andrew Squires, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney, said that a female Washington and Lee student reported Vergara to the police Feb. 2 after he sexually assaulted her Jan. 14.

Had the case gone to trial, the prosecutor said, he would have presented evidence that the victim went to a party with a friend and Vergara. The friend was dating Vergara at the time.

The three students went back to their dorm because Vergara was told he wasn’t allowed at the party, Squires said.

Two students told the Phi in March that Vergara had been “balled,” or banned from rushing, from more than one fraternity due to prior allegations of sexual assault.

Squires said the victim was intoxicated, and she went to sleep in Vergara’s room alone. The prosecutor said Vergara and his girlfriend were supposed to sleep in another room.

But Vergara went into the room and got into bed with the victim, Squires said.

The victim “resisted” Vergara and “pushed him away,” the prosecutor said. He said Vergara then sexually assaulted her.

At some point, Vergara stopped and fell asleep, the prosecutor said. The victim was scared that she would wake up Vergara, but she left the room anyway, he said.

Squires said a Resident Advisor confirmed that the victim knocked on his door and told him that she’d been raped. The RA, a mandatory reporter, notified the university, he said.

The victim reported the assault to police three weeks later, he said.

The prosecutor said Detective Nathan Kesterson interviewed Vergara in early February. Squires said Vergara admitted what he did was wrong. But Vergara didn’t want to call himself a rapist, the prosecutor said.

Another student told the Phi in March that she had filed a Title IX complaint against Vergara a few days after he sexually assaulted her in October. The university took no disciplinary action in that case, she said.

In Instagram messages reviewed by the Phi, Vergara said he went to Lauren Kozak, the university’s Title IX coordinator, to talk about the alleged assault. He also apologized.

Washington and Lee spokesperson Drewry Sackett said at the time that she couldn’t discuss specific sexual misconduct cases. She told the Phi that Vergara was no longer enrolled at the university as of March 3.

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    Jeffrey Lawson Class of 68Mar 13, 2024 at 2:47 pm

    Sexual assault continues to be a serious issue on college campuses that has yet to be addressed. Twenty percent of freshman coeds at Clemson University admit to experiencing an incidence of sexual assualt. Last year’s March Ring-Tum Phi issue documented a similar statistic at W&L. I hope to introduce a new and dramatic strategy to address this issue in the next three months.