In the course of the Class of 2022’s commencement weekend in Could, Penn State’s Lion Shrine was vandalized and closed off to the general public. Many members of the neighborhood have been left with one query: who did this, and why?

Why would somebody power the college to shut certainly one of campus’ most iconic landmarks throughout a time when 1000’s of scholars are lining as much as take footage? Practically two months later, our questions have solutions. 

In an e mail despatched to Onward State Friday, Penn State alum Julia Cipparulo claimed accountability for the campus vandalisms that occurred on Could 8. She faces 4 felony prices for an incident that befell on Curtin Highway, which is the place the Lion Shrine is positioned.

Cipparulo supplied and printed a wealth of major sources that embrace reasoning for her alleged crimes. There was the e-mail of confession despatched to Onward State, a 32-page essay detailing “repeated rape and sexual coercion” at Penn State, a doc she calls “An Define of Negligence and Discrimination at Penn State College,” and her public TikTok account, amongst different messages and paperwork.

She alleges that negligence, hazing, sexual assault, and extra befell throughout her time at Penn State. She revealed a beforehand unknown suspension on the Lion Ambassadors group, which she claims was mishandled by the college and almost led to her dying. Lion Ambassadors is finest recognized for giving excursions of Penn State’s campus, however the group additionally hosts occasions in partnership with the Alumni Affiliation.

To assist inform Cipparulo’s story finest, we broke down her most important motives for the alleged vandalism and the important thing factors of her Penn State expertise. 

To get a full grasp of Cipparulo’s experiences with sexual assault and coercion at Penn State, we suggest studying her full essay. We’ll embrace the related parts for this story, however making an attempt to summarize the 32-page doc could be a disservice to her experiences. 

Disclaimer: The next story incorporates descriptions of sexual assault, hazing, suicide, and different heavy issues. 

Why Vandalism?

On Could 8, Penn State was focused by a string of vandalism to not less than Previous Primary, the Lion Shrine, and the Hintz Household Alumni Heart. The Lion Shrine’s ear was damaged off and soaked in pink paint. Previous Primary was graffitied with textual content that learn “TIME IS UP,” “DEATH BY COP,” “DEATH BY HAZING,” “DEATH BY SUICIDE,” and “DEATH BY PSU CULTURE.” The letters “FTG,” that means “for the glory,” have been painted onto the Alumni Heart.

Cipparulo skilled what she referred to as “repeated rape and sexual coercion” at Penn State, which is detailed in her essay. She wrote that she additionally despatched a six-page letter to the Penn State administration addressing sanctions imposed on the Lion Ambassadors within the spring of 2021. She claims she acquired no response.

Onward State obtained a June 2021 e mail revealing that the Lion Ambassadors advisor instructed Cipparulo her letter was despatched to Penn State directors and the Alumni Affiliation management staff. The advisor, who was a mandated reporter, additionally knowledgeable Cipparulo that they filed a Title IX report.

A college spokesperson confirmed that accusations of inappropriate conduct inside Lion Ambassadors have been investigated from late April to mid-August of 2021. In the course of the investigation, “all inner occasions and social occasions inside the program have been suspended.”

The spokesperson additionally wrote that “a number of organizational reforms have been put into place” following the investigation. The Alumni Affiliation eliminated college students from this system. Onward State obtained inner emails that confirmed three college students have been eliminated in April following three “Conduct Unbecomings.”

Cipparulo claims that she didn’t hear again from the college after sending her letter, and a Penn State spokesperson couldn’t particularly verify {that a} response was despatched. Nonetheless, the spokesperson wrote that the Workplace of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response “responded instantly” to these affected by the Lion Ambassadors suspension. It’s not clear if this response was to Cipparulo or these affected by allegations that led to the suspension.

Neither the advisor nor different Lion Ambassadors leaders on the time might be reached for an interview. Cipparulo wrote that she was out and in of psychiatric hospitals on the time, and it “goes to indicate how psychological well being crises type obstacles to communication of traumatic occasions.”

She additionally wrote a 17-page modification to the group’s structure with solutions for “obligatory sexual violence and bystander intervention coaching” and a “victim-based approached to sexual assault report.” She claimed that none of her modifications have been applied and that she didn’t obtain a response from three unnamed information retailers when making an attempt to amplify her complaints.

Cipparulo additionally has a TikTok playlist titled “Maintain PSU Accountable,” which has movies courting again to December 2020. She printed the aforementioned essay titled “Defining My Story” on April 1, 2022. After going totally public along with her story, Cipparulo started receiving feedback from college students and alums who share an identical distaste for Penn State.

“Penn State is de facto poisonous each admin and pupil physique,” one particular person commented on a TikTok video. “That’s the actual purpose I left. They dealt with my case like a joke,” one other commenter mentioned below a video the place Cipparulo claimed Penn State mishandled her sexual assault and hazing stories. “My drink was drugged at a celebration as a freshman and that i ended up within the [emergency room.] It bought reported, and that i bought cited bc i mentioned i had been consuming!” one other commenter wrote below the identical video.

However, not the entire feedback on her movies voiced assist. The truth is, one account with the username “ilovepennstate” commented that they’ll “all the time shield psu” after the college correctly dealt with their sexual assault case. 

“That’s not fucking regular. I’m glad you had a great expertise. So many others didn’t,” Cipparulo responded to the constructive remark.

To Cipparulo, Penn State’s response to her outcries — which included not less than the essay, modification, and letter to the administration — was not sufficient. So, she determined to take extra drastic motion, she wrote.

“They are saying the pen is mightier than the sword, and for essentially the most half I don’t disagree. However when the individuals in energy refuse to acknowledge your writing, and when your neighborhood is blinded by adoration of a corrupt establishment, a pen will take you solely to this point,” she wrote to Onward State. “No, I’d not choose up a sword, as I consider in non-violence in opposition to humankind. So when the pen failed, I picked up a sledgehammer and took to the Lion Shrine.”

Cipparulo added that she was not having a bipolar disorder-induced manic episode when allegedly vandalizing campus. She wrote that she was “totally conscious of the results” and that this occasion was a results of post-traumatic stress dysfunction, which “was a commencement reward from [her] alma mater.”

Cipparulo additionally cited earlier tales of tragedy at Penn State, together with the dying of Osaze Osagie, a Black State Faculty resident who was fatally shot three years in the past by State Faculty police whereas finishing a psychological well being examine, and Timothy Piazza, who died in 2017 after a hazing incident at Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

She additionally wrote that “Justine” was amongst a listing of names painted behind the Lion Shrine within the vandalism, in reference to Justine Gross, who died after an 11-story fall down a Beaver Terrace Flats trash chute in November 2021. Cipparulo added that Gross was the reasoning for the “Loss of life by PSU tradition” message painted onto Previous Primary, and that “particulars of why she crawled right into a trash chute are unknown or undisclosed, however video footage exhibits her appearing frightened.”

Cipparulo wrote to Onward State that Gross’s sister, Jasmine, reached out to “categorical her assist for [Cipparulo] and for the struggle for justice for Justine and the opposite college students.”

“This was my peaceable protest,” she instructed police in her affidavit of possible trigger. “The again of the lion [shrine] is pink, as a result of to the entrance it appears like the whole lot is okay. Identical to Penn State. Every little thing is okay. From the again, it’s all bloody and damaged.”

She additionally wrote in her essay that she struggled with suicidal ideation in the summertime of 2021. 

She wrote to Onward State that she was hospitalized 3 times between Could and June 2021, which was “instantly” attributable to the Lion Ambassadors shutdown.  She additionally tried suicide her sophomore yr at Penn State. 

“​​The neighborhood would inform themselves that it’s not their fault, and my family members would ask themselves on a regular basis what they may have finished otherwise…” Cipparulo wrote. “Everybody would have mourned my dying, wiped their arms and mentioned that there’s nothing that might be finished. I’m telling you that there’s a lot to be finished.”

As an alternative of turning to violence or suicide, Cipparulo selected vandalism to assist unfold her story. She wrote that she has “little doubt” that she would completely be in remedy facilities if not for vandalizing campus.

“I can relaxation understanding that I’ve finished the whole lot I might to interrupt the cycle of dying and trauma. It’s not sufficient on my half,” Cipparulo wrote. “However that damaged ear is a everlasting reminder of the darkish facet of Penn State College, the lives misplaced, and a warning. A warning that the deaths will proceed until large change is enacted. And that gained’t occur with out the voices of the neighborhood. Your voices, in the event you so select.”

Cipparulo wrote that she will deal with the results of allegedly committing these crimes, however she has “no intention” of inflicting future authorized bother for herself. She added that she has “no regrets” and would “do it once more each single time.”

“Social change has by no means been achieved with out protests, and importantly, protests which have damaged the regulation. It’s the very basis of our nation,” Cipparulo wrote. “However the largest consequence? Penn State College can’t deal with it: our associates, household, and neighborhood are lastly speaking about these deaths and what trigger them. We is not going to endure in silence any longer. At the very least, I gained’t.”

Later on this story, we are going to additional discover Cipparulo’s particular gripes with Penn State’s dealing with of the Lion Ambassdors scenario and the college’s insurance policies on reporting hazing and sexual assault. This part was purely for instance and summarize her causes for allegedly selecting vandalism as a type of protest.

The First Vandalism — June 2021

Whereas Cipparulo’s alleged Could 8 vandalism was the primary to obtain main consideration, she mentioned it was not the primary time she took to defacing the Lion Shrine.

Cipparulo mentioned on TikTok that she vandalized the shrine with teal paint on June 1, 2021, “in a manic episode to protest Penn State’s mishandling of [sexual assault/hazing] stories in [her] pupil org.” The Nationwide Sexual Violence Useful resource Heart says teal is the colour of sexual violence prevention. In 2022, the group inspired people to put on teal on April 5, which was the Sexual Assault Consciousness Month day of motion.

Cipparulo mentioned that police knew forward of time that she was going to commit this primary vandalism. She claims that quite than stopping her, police tailed her round campus and took footage of her actions earlier than arresting her.

“They took footage of a severely ailing pupil within the midst of a psychological well being disaster,” she additionally wrote to Onward State. “The cops adopted and watched me as I wrote my ache with a sharpie, throughout campus. Proper on the door of Previous-Primary.”

Penn State Police confirmed {that a} vandalism incident on the Lion Shrine befell between 3:19 and three:39 a.m. on June 1, 2021. Police mentioned a “pupil reported concern for one more particular person,” and the case is marked with an open disposition, which suggests it’s nonetheless below investigation and no arrests have been made. The costs have been listed as “departmental data.”

Cipparulo mentioned she used water-based paint for this primary vandalism, which allowed it to simply wash off with a hose. She drew a comparability to Penn State’s “guard the Lion Shrine” custom, which remembers when Sue Paterno coated the Lion Shrine in orange water-based paint earlier than a soccer recreation in opposition to Syracuse to rile up the scholar physique. Syracuse followers then used extra everlasting oil-based paint to vandalize the shrine themselves, spawning the custom of “guarding” the shrine earlier than Homecoming.

“A soccer recreation is a suitable purpose for vandalization. Sexual assault consciousness is…not?,” Cipparulo wrote in her essay.

The primary vandalism went largely unnoticed. This 2021 defacing of the Lion Shrine didn’t draw any consideration from the neighborhood or media, which maybe led her to allegedly take extra drastic motion in Could of 2022.

“After Sandusky’s sexual abuse of youngsters, and Timothy Piazza’s dying in 2017, Penn State didn’t enhance their tradition or insurance policies to encourage reporting and recovering,” she wrote. “As an alternative, they bought higher at cowl ups, and instituted insurance policies to discourage reporting. My ex-boyfriend bought higher at rape every time he did it. I took a web page from their hand e book, and I bought higher at vandalism.”

Penn State Administration’s Neglect

One in all Cipparulo’s most important gripes with the Penn State administration arises from the response to an incident inside a corporation that she calls “pupil group #2.” Via a cross-referencing of situations between paperwork, this group was decided to be Lion Ambassadors.

All inner and social occasions have been suspended inside the group from late April to mid-August 2021, in accordance with a Penn State spokesperson. Cipparulo claims it was attributable to one report of hazing and three stories of sexual assault.

“Penn State’s Administration and the Alumni Affiliation dealt with that scenario horrifically,” she wrote in her essay. “They need to have acted with extra tact, compassion, and charm…two of my associates have been kicked out. Each of them had made me really feel secure in conditions the place I felt uncomfortable and unsafe in sexually predatory conditions.”

Cipparulo wrote the Lion Ambassadors Class of 2021’s Senior Ship-Off was canceled attributable to this shutdown. She added that due to this cancellation, her total class — together with those that reported abuse within the first place — was punished for the actions of some people. 

She wrote that Penn State’s resolution to close down the group and cancel the remaining social occasions set a nasty precedent for reporting abuse and misconduct. Moreover, she wrote that the administration supplied restricted reasoning for the sanctions and didn’t present psychological well being sources, sexual violence prevention/consciousness coaching, or assist for survivors. Nonetheless, a Penn State spokesperson rebuked this declare by writing that “assist providers have been supplied” and that “a number of organizational reforms have been put into place.”

“Punishment in isolation doesn’t change abusive behaviors,” Cipparulo wrote. “Principally, it discourages reporting, worsens the perpetrator’s habits, and will increase the probability of them hurting one other particular person.”

Moreover, Cipparulo took concern with Lion Ambassadors nonetheless asking college students to do work for the college throughout the shutdown, writing that Penn State “used these college students free of charge labor, whereas the scholars acquired none of the advantages of the group.” An e mail obtained by Onward State confirmed an advisor requesting work from college students in Could, nicely into the suspension interval throughout the investigation.

Following the shutdown, she wrote a 17-page modification to the Lion Ambassadors structure that referred to as for “obligatory sexual violence and bystander intervention coaching, in addition to a victim-based approached to sexual assault stories.” She additionally wrote a letter to the administration titled “The Legacy of Joe Paterno,” which has been obtained by Onward State.

She wrote that, as a survivor of sexual assault, reward of Paterno felt “venomous” within the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. She additional defined her points with how the college handles stories of abuse and misconduct and wrote that sexual assault is “deeply engrained in Penn State pupil tradition.” 

Cipparulo claims she acquired no response. Present Lion Ambassadors leaders didn’t reply to a request for remark. A college spokesperson wrote that “the Workplace of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response responded on to these affected on this matter to debate allegations and supply assist sources.” Once more, it’s not clear if this response was to Cipparulo or these affected by allegations that led to the suspension.

“You didn’t report your abuse since you knew what it could do to your favourite membership, and also you couldn’t afford to lose it. For some college students, our golf equipment are our lifelines. You converse out about your issues, but your issues persist,” Cipparulo wrote to Penn State directors. “You’ve got two choices: endure quietly, or finish your ache in suicide. You’re feeling powerless. Nonetheless, you progress alongside.”

Her points with the administration boil down to 2 most important gripes. First, she wrote that the administration lacks empathy in relation to pupil conduct violations, as demonstrated by her experiences with Lion Ambassadors shutting down. Second, she wrote that the college creates an unsafe setting via its insurance policies on hate speech and crime.

The theme of her letter likened the present points that she perceives at Penn State immediately to those that existed a decade in the past amid the Sandusky scandal.

“We’re struggling. We have now seen our associates die, from suicide and from overdose…When the general public learns of what our heroes have finished to others, we see them fall from grace,” she wrote. “We lose our assist community when our associates are expelled, or demonized for his or her errors…a vicious cycle of sexual violence and rippling psychological well being crises, has induced Penn State to deal with misconduct the identical method Penn State dealt with the Sandusky Scandal.”

Points With Police

Cipparulo’s gripes with Penn State carry over from the administration to the college’s police division as nicely. These points date again to when she first filed a Title IX criticism in January 2020, which was later amended in July 2021, in accordance with her essay.

The unique Title IX report was primarily based on a fabricated scenario, which seems to be why her essay is titled “I Falsely Reported Sexual Assault (Earlier than I Knew I Was Assaulted).” Cipparulo wrote that at a celebration on the Meridian condominium complicated in January 2020, a short sexual encounter induced her to have a “panic assault” and “breakdown” about an actual rape that occurred six weeks earlier.

She wrote that, for quite a lot of causes, she didn’t need anybody to report her rapist, who’s known as [Student #1] all through the essay. As an alternative, she “made up a narrative,” which led to buying Plan B and opening a Title IX investigation, which she wrote was dropped after the investigator requested for a reputation and supplied to examine safety footage.

Cipparulo wrote that her relationship with [Student #1] grew to become additional strained in July 2021, which is when she claims she amended her Title IX criticism to call him as her assaulter. In a TikTok posted in April 2022, Cipparulo mentioned she then particularly requested if police would do an investigation however was instructed they’d take an “education-based method.”

In the identical TikTok, Cipparulo mentioned Penn State Police reached again out to her in April 2022 after she went public along with her essay. Within the essay, she defined that she didn’t wish to press prices in opposition to [Student #1] at the moment. She confirmed textual content messages that seem like from a Penn State Police detective wherein they wrote that an investigation has been opened in opposition to [Student #1].

“Oh, so now that what occurred to me is public, now they wish to do a legal investigation,” Cipparulo mentioned. “And so they opened up the investigation with out my consent…Penn State was solely taking motion now that it was public, despite the fact that it was utterly in opposition to my needs.”

Within the TikTok, she confirmed a textual content the place she responded to an obvious police officer that she would have thought of a legal investigation in 2021 — when she amended her Title IX criticism and allegedly acquired the response about an “education-based method.”

On Could 8, the day the Lion Shrine was vandalized, Cipparulo posted one other TikTok that confirmed a name from a contact titled “College Police.” The seen digits of the telephone quantity are the identical as the general public quantity for Penn State Police. She mentioned they referred to as as a result of “their rock is damaged” and that they requested about her essay once more.

“Depart me alone, I’m making an attempt to heal,” she mentioned.

Cipparulo additionally wrote in her essay that she “misplaced contact with actuality” following the Lion Ambassadors sanctions. Her “psychological state unraveled with paranoia and delusions,” which induced Penn State to obtain a slew of psychological well being checks on her behalf.

She claims that these psychological well being checks induced Penn State to ship law enforcement officials to observe her condominium.

“As soon as, a police automobile adopted me right into a neighborhood, slowly circling the parking zone, and didn’t depart till I traveled into the woods,” Cipparulo wrote. “A cop automobile sat within the parking zone instantly going through my condominium nearly each single day…their actions considerably worsened my psychological state.”

She additionally wrote that this triggered a manic episode wherein she intensely tried to evade the police. On this state of mania and avoidance, Cipparulo wrote that she nearly died when strolling in entrance of a automobile touring 50 mph on Faculty Avenue. After this anecdote within the essay, she referenced the story of Osaze Osagie and wrote that “Penn State and State Faculty police have a historical past of mishandling psychological well being crises.”

Police deferred to the college’s public relations division for a remark. A spokesperson wrote that “the Workplace of Sexual Misconduct Prevention & Response responded on to these affected on this matter to debate allegations and supply assist sources.”

Hazing

The ultimate piece to Cipparulo’s story is the hazing she claims that she and others she knew skilled in Penn State organizations. “Loss of life by Hazing,” in reference to Tim Piazza’s dying at Beta Theta Pi, was painted on Previous Primary throughout the Could 8 vandalism.

Cipparulo claims that her ex-boyfriend, who’s [Student #1], was hazed by his fraternity freshman yr. She wrote that after this occasion, there was “nothing good left within him,” which induced him to repeatedly rape her. She mentioned in a TikTok video that he was locked right into a coffin and thrown into the woods and that “no matter occurred at Alpha Sig turned him right into a fucking rapist.”

Cipparulo mentioned she had points with how Penn State dealt with this hazing incident, which induced your complete group to be suspended as a result of actions of some people — a parallel to her gripes with the Lion Ambassadors sanctions. In December 2017, Alpha Sigma Pi fraternity was suspended by Penn State after an investigation discovered that it endangered members throughout the fall 2016 semester.

 “Your complete group will get punished in the event you report hazing, so nobody desires to report it,” she mentioned. “It really lowers charges of reporting. And decrease charges of reporting will increase charges of abuse…the actual blame is on Penn State as a result of Penn State doesn’t tradition an setting the place individuals really feel secure to get assist for his or her associates…as a result of they concern the repercussions.”

Following the dying of Tim Piazza, investigation of wrongdoings inside fraternities grew to become Penn State’s accountability quite than that of the inter-fraternity council, in accordance with the Washington Publish

Cipparulo additionally wrote that she personally skilled hazing at [Student Organization #2], which is now recognized to be Lion Ambassadors. She claims that she participated in a “sexualized type of yoga” at a retreat in 2019. She claims the yoga was led by her rapist and included “simulated oral intercourse, humping, intercourse positions, and many others.” She additionally wrote that group members have been compelled to sleep on hardwood flooring throughout the retreat, which induced hurt attributable to her continual ache.

Cipparulo reported that she has fibromyalgia and scoliosis, in addition to connective tissue points associated to a familial historical past of Ehler-Danlos Syndrome. She raised points with the Lion Ambassadors’ Individuals with Disabilities Act (ADA) protocols, claiming that she initially was barred from sporting sneakers on excursions and ignored when mentioning different ADA points. Cipparulo added that her mom was not capable of tour Penn State attributable to an absence of ADA lodging.

She wrote that her class, in addition to the one under, instituted an “Solely If You Really feel Snug” coverage the following yr following the yoga incident. She additionally claimed that members of the group have been instructed to sexual harassment, bullying, and intimidation via an “nameless discussion board” that “is meant to be filtered.”


An unsecured bail of $26,000 was set at Cipparulo’s preliminary arraignment on June 27. Her preliminary listening to is scheduled for Wednesday, July 6.

Cipparulo wrote to Onward State that she plans to sue Penn State for its mishandling of the Lion Ambassadors scenario in 2021. She added that this potential authorized case will assist her pay restitution for allegedly damaging the Lion Shrine.

She additionally wrote that she’s within the planning phases of publishing a set of essays and narratives about Penn State that can “present attention-grabbing perception about how individuals reply to controversies about establishments they idolize.”

Penn State alumni Aubrey McElrath and Ayse Keskin, who have been Cipparulo’s neighbors in 2020, put collectively a GoFundMe web page to assist her authorized restitution. The aim is ready at $26,000, and it raised greater than $500 in its first 5 hours of posting.

We’ll proceed to supply updates on Cipparulo’s authorized case and story as they turn out to be obtainable.



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