FOIA reveals more information on false rape case

By Aubrie Smith, co-editor-in-chief

Nine months ago, a former Delta College student claimed that she was sexually assaulted by an unknown black male in the northwest parking lot of Delta’s main campus.

The report led campus officials to alert other Delta students via text message, warning them about a rapist at large. A grassroots campaign erupted on campus with Post-it notes that stated “I believe her.” Two Delta students were questioned about the accusation, including a parolee who happened to be in the parking lot during the alleged incident.

The rape, police now say, never happened. Mary Zolkowski, the once-alleged victim, now faces a felony charge. The lengthy police report made of the incident, obtained by the Collegiate through a Freedom of Information Act request, brought to light particulars and consequences of the false rape reported, including details that it may have been financially motivated.

From victim to defendant

Zolkowski is currently charged in Bay County District Court with one count of false report of a felony, punishable by up to four years of incarceration and a $2,000 fine.

District Justice Mark Janer is currently waiting to review files sent from a psychiatric facility who administered Zolkowski an examination. The results of the examination will determine if she is fit to stand trial.

The Collegiate has reached out to Zolkowski and her lawyer James F. Piazza.

“The case is still pending and I have no comment,” said Piazza.

Police Report

“I kind of blacked out”

FEB. 22 – Mary Zolkowski’s mother called to report her daughter’s rape to a Delta College Public Safety officer. Her mother was concerned due to the fact that Mary was unwilling to talk to police officers about the incident or get a physical exam, records show.

Later, when officers were able to contact Zolkowski, she told officials that she had been raped by an unknown black male.

She alleged that the rape occurred after returning from the parking lot from walking her friend to class. She mentioned that she had dropped her classes previously, but had returned to give her friend a ride to school, records show.

When asked where the rape occurred on campus, Zolkowski could not recall where she had parked. She stated that she usually parked in J wing, but could not confirm where she parked that day. She continuously stated that she had parked “out back,” records show.

Zolkowski alleged that she was fumbling with her keys when was grabbed from behind, records show. She also stated that it was a black male, claiming that all she saw were his hands and that she did not get a good look at him.

When asked about any information on what the man could have said or done during the time of assault, Zolkowski claimed she “kind of blacked out.”

When asked about having a physical examination done by officers, Zolkowski refused. She also requested that no one contact the friend she took to school and no one come to her home.

FEB. 23 – Zolkowski met with Chief Robert Battinkoff and Title IX coordinator Loyce Brown. Title IX is a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program. Before the meeting, Zolkowski mentioned to Battinkoff that she had dropped her Delta classes due to her overhearing individuals in the hall making victim-blaming statements, records show. Zolkowski stated that she “just couldn’t be at Delta anymore.”

During her interview with the Title IX coordinator, Zolkowski clarified that the assault had occurred in the northwest parking lot at Delta College.

Zolkowski added that she let her friend whom she had taken to class know about the assault. He replied that it would be best if they not talk anymore. He stated that he did not want to “deal with that,” records show. Again, Zolkowski insisted that officials not speak to her friend, stating that “he’s not going to say he knows me.”

When describing the alleged assault to Brown, she described the male pushing her into the front seat of her vehicle, records show. She alleged that her head was between the seat and the dashboard. She also described her arms being pinned under her body and against the doorframe. She stated that the suspect was wearing a condom, later stating that it was lubricated, records show.

Zolkowski stated that she “blacked out” during the assault, and described it as being a very brief duration. Zolkowski used the term “hit it and quit it,” records show.

Zolkowski described her injuries from the assault, stating that he had bruising to her breasts and that she felt her neck and back were injured, records show. She seemed surprised that her neck was not bruised from having been strangled.

After the interview, Zolkowski stated that she did not wish to be involved in a law enforcement investigation and did not wish to have an invasive examination.

Battinkoff was later contacted by an officer, who had been contacted by Covenant Hospital in Saginaw, because Zolkowski had gone to seek treatment. While there, she did not consent to a sexual assault examination.

Investigation begins

FEB. 23 – Public Safety Officer Ruterbusch was informed that Zolkowski told officials that the assault occurred in the northwest lot. Ruterbusch recalled that Delta’s soccer and softball fields are located near that lot and that the night of the alleged assault the women’s softball team was practicing on the field. The officer remembered them being there until 6 p.m. or a bit later.

Officer Ruterbusch contacted the softball assistant coach and asked if any of the players may have seen anything suspicious; he replied that they had not.

FEB. 27 – Over 1,500 sticky notes lined the walls of Delta College restrooms with messages such as “I believe her” printed on. The Post-its were quickly removed by faculty.

Battinkoff received a call from a Saginaw Parole and Probation agent who informed him of a GPS-monitored parolee who was on campus the date and time of sexual assault. The agent identified the parolee and stated that he had unusual movement on the GPS monitor. He had arrived on campus shortly after 5 p.m near the A wing.

MARCH 10 – Battinkoff received two emails from Zolkowski. The first email alleged that Zolkowski’s mother had her on “house arrest basically,” records show. Zolkowski stated that her mother no longer wanted her participating in the investigation. The email also stressed that she did not want anyone besides her contacted about the case. After learning that her friend was contacted for a statement, Zolkowski stated, “The only person that should be talked to is me; I was the victim, not her.”

The second email expressed Zolkowski’s wish for her mother to be eliminated from the case as well. “If my mother calls you or Delta Public Safety, she is not allowed any information about my case. She is not longer a part of it. Thank you,” wrote Zolkowski.

MARCH 8 – The parole officer arranged for the student on parole on campus at the time of the alleged assault was given a polygraph. He was also questioned regarding his involvement in any criminal activity related to the complaint at Delta College. The agent stated that his answers did not indicate any criminal involvement and did not indicate any deception, records show.

MARCH 13 – Battinkoff spoke to Zolkowski’s mother, asking about the claim that she no longer wanted her daughter to participate in the investigation. Zolkowski’s mother stated that this was false. She spoke only as a concerned parent of how often Zolkowski was returning to Delta.

Changing stories

MARCH 17 – Battinkoff and Brown met with Zolkowski again at the Delta College Public Safety office. At this time, Mary claimed that her friend had committed the sexual assault. She stated that she was intoxicated and her friend had sexual intercourse with her when she was incapable of consent, records show.

Zolkowski also stated that this happened at his apartment in Saginaw Township. She said that after the assault, she drove him to Delta College and dropped him off. Mary stated that the assault did not occur at Delta College, records show.

She stated that the confusion of where the assault happened came from telling her mother that she was at Delta College, and her mother assuming that the assault happened there and then reporting that Delta College was where it occurred. Zolkowski stated that she did not correct her before but now wanted to tell the truth, records show.

Zolkowski then wrote a signed statement and provided it to Brown, apologizing for the situation at hand. She then stated that she did not want to prosecute her friend for the alleged assault, but that she did want to provide information against him for the narcotics dealing she alleged had occurred in his apartment.

Later that day, Officer Ruterbusch received a call from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office regarding text messages between Zolkowski and the alleged suspect. The suspect, Zolkowski’s friend, wanted to talk to the police because he felt that Zolkowski had ill intent. He provided Ruterbusch with a series of text messages between him and Zolkowski.

The text messages indicate that Zolkowski was at Delta Feb. 22 to drop her classes and agreed to pick the man up. The messages also said that she was grabbed from behind at Walmart. Zolkowski later messaged him and explained the Delta College police department’s investigation, saying, “Don’t participate in Delta’s investigation. If you do anything, only fingerprints are required, you don’t have to give a statement (please for goodness’ sake, don’t),” records show.

Tuition refund sought

MARCH 20 – Battinkoff questioned Zolkowski’s boyfriend at his place of employment. Battinkoff asked about what he knew about the alleged assault.

Records show that Zolkowski’s boyfriend told Battinkoff that Zolkowski originally told him that she had been raped at an unnamed friend’s apartment. She then changed her story to say that the rape occurred at Delta College.

When asked about why he thought she would lie about the incident, her boyfriend stated that Zolkowski had dropped all of her classes and told him that she had received a refund for her tuition. He assumed that the report was made so that she could receive her refund, records show.

Later that day, Battinkoff interviewed Zolkowski’s friend that she claimed assaulted her. In the interview, he explained how he met Zolkowski the day before the incident and that they hung out at his apartment. He stated that the day of the alleged assault, he asked Zolkowski for a ride to class, but then decided that he did not want to attend class. They then went back to his apartment where the two had consensual intercourse, the friend told police.

He also stated that Zolkowski had not been drinking and was not intoxicated, and that the two did not even go to Delta College the night of the incident. He provided a photograph that he had taken of Zolkowski lying on his bed, nude, after the time she stated the assault happened, records show.

Her friend had also received a text message from her 2 hours later Feb. 22 stating that she was grabbed at Walmart. She later changed the location of the rape to Delta College. He also argued that the allegations against him did not make sense because she had messaged him saying she was raped by someone else. He denied all allegations of the assault, records show.

When Battinkoff asked him why he thought Zolkowski would make these claims, he stated that he assumed she was trying to get a refund for her tuition from Delta. April 24, he submitted his phone into evidence, records show.

MAY 12 – Battinkoff interviewed Zolkowski at Delta College. During the interview Zolkowski admitted that the statement she submitted to Saginaw Township Police in which she said her friend had pushed her down on the floor and that she had blacked out, realizing she had been raped when she regained consciousness, records show.

Zolkowski admitted that she recalled the intercourse, and she had been a willing participant, but midway through she had told him to stop. After further questioning, she changed her statement to state that she wanted to tell him to stop but the act had stopped before she could do so.

DEC.14 – Since then a warrant was issued by Bay County Prosecutor for the false report. The court will assess if Zolkowski is mentally competent enough to stand trial.

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