LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has committed itself to improving student safety after a recent article highlighted a graduate who had six sexual assault allegations against him at three Louisiana colleges. According to USA TODAY, each university and local law enforcement failed to connect the dots due to lack of communication.
Victor Daniel Silva attended Louisiana State University, UL at Lafayette, and Louisiana Tech. His ex-girlfriend, Nicole Pellegrin told News 10 in her own home and days before graduation, one of her friends was sexually assaulted by Silva.
“If they had just talked to each other about this, everybody would have known what was going on,” Pellegrin lamented.
She and Silva both graduated UL-Lafayette in 2020 with Chemical Engineering degrees, but Pellegrin said she would have steered clear of Silva if her school knew of all six sexual assault allegations while at college.
A paper trail uncovered by USA TODAY, found Silva transferred from LSU as a freshman with two sexual assault allegations. Then while at UL Lafayette, three women reported him to the Lafayette Police Department which never informed the school, and Silva escaped another sex assault allegation during a short transfer to Louisiana Tech.
The USA TODAY article revealed only one sexual assault report from Baton Rouge that resulted in an arrest was reported to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Pellegrin said Silva told everyone the accusation was false through a rehearsed “sob story”. Because there was only one alleged assault students knew of many found it easier to believe one accusation could be false.
She tried looking into Silva’s past before deciding to date him but said, “You couldn’t look it up anywhere you couldn’t find any information.”
Act 172, a Louisiana law created in 2015, requires educational institutions and law enforcement to share sex-crime accusations with each other. It also requires institutions to withhold transcripts of students seeking a transfer with pending sex crime investigations.
Helena Moreno co-authored Act 172 and responded to the news on social media.
Pellerin said if the rules are not followed, they need to be rewritten with more accountability to ensure school and law enforcement agencies keep them. “The support isn’t there on any level it seems because if there was, there is zero reason that this should have been allowed to happen. Everybody screwed it up. Everybody,” Pellerin said.
Not every alleged victim has gone before authorities or the university. Some are doubtful something would be done. Pellegrin said she’s one of over a dozen women she’s now spoken to that all attest to sexual assault from Silva.
“He’s just been doing that for years and years and years. This has been going on for over a decade,” Pellegrin claimed.
According to Pellerin, most recently another sexual assault claim cost Silva his job in Arkansas and now he is back in Lafayette with his parents. She said when she knew Silva and his parents, they would excuse his actions and find him a way out. Pellerin doesn’t another person to face that fate.
“I don’t want him to be able to catch anybody off-guard because he’s so good, and he’s so practiced,” she warned.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette Dr. Joseph Savoie emailed this statement to students, faculty, and staff when the article released:
Dear students, faculty and staff members,
As you may be aware, a news outlet published a story this morning that focused on a former student who faced allegations of sexual misconduct while attending several universities in our state, including UL Lafayette.
The University cooperated extensively with the publication over the past several months. We answered questions thoroughly and provided requested public records. We believe in transparency, and our responsiveness to inquiries reflected that belief.
The story is nonetheless troubling. Though the University followed state and federal laws and policies as they existed at the time, the article highlights critical communication gaps that need to be addressed.
Current, ongoing discussions in the Louisiana Legislature will likely result in further reforms as to how higher education institutions communicate allegations of sexual misconduct.
The University, along with our fellow University of Louisiana System institutions, has been actively engaged in these discussions. We will continue to do so because we fully support these efforts.
But our work is not confined to legislation alone. We must continue to improve programs and initiatives that prevent this misconduct from occurring.
The University takes all allegations of sexual assault and misconduct seriously. Our commitment to creating a living, learning and working environment where every member of our campus community has their rights respected, and feels safe, is absolute.Sincerely, Dr. Joseph Savoie, President
For more on this story, read the original USA TODAY article.