A former University of Minnesota student was sentenced to more than six years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to raping two women during college parties on back-to-back weekends in 2014.
Daniel Drill-Mellum pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming for two sexual assaults — one which occurred in 2014 on Halloween in his fraternity’s laundry room, and one that occurred a week later at his apartment.
“It’s a relief I can walk the world a bit more freely now,” Drill-Mellum’s second victim — who agreed to be identified by her first name, Abby — told BuzzFeed News Wednesday. “It’s going to be a huge relief to be a person a again.”
In her impact statement, which she read in court, Abby detailed the night of the assault. She said her only plan that night was to go to a football tailgate party. During the event, she said Drill-Mellum asked for her help getting more alcohol from his apartment.
“I remember realizing once I walked into his apartment that there was no one else there, and the terror that quickly set in when I realized what he was about to do,” she said in her impact statement. “I begged to go back to my friends. He didn’t listen. I squirmed away and tried to roll over, but he kept pulling my body back. Eventually, he allowed me to flip onto my stomach as he raped me. I remember thinking ‘just close your eyes and you can get out of here soon.’”
Abby said he violently raped and choked her, shoving his arm down her throat.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said in her statement. “I kind of hoped I was going to die.”
“I started truly physically struggling to get away,” she added. “Each time he grabbed me back down onto his bed, and said 'no' when I begged him to go back to my friends. Then he announced that he was going to rape me a second time. He called it 'sex,' but I knew that wasn’t what this was.”
Abby said she suffered physical wounds serious enough that a nurse gasped when she went to the hospital.
Abby told BuzzFeed News she wrote the impact statement a few weeks ago and felt confident standing up in court to read it, adding, “there was a lot of stuff that was left unsaid that I needed to say.”
“When it came time, though, I absolutely broke down,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I’m surprised I even got through. I could feel him looking at me while he was sitting behind me.”
Drill-Mellum will be eligible for release after two-thirds of his 74-month sentence and will be a lifetime registered sex offender.
His attorney, Debbie Lang, told the courtroom that Drill-Mellum has entered an inpatient sex offender treatment last May, according to the Star Tribune.
"From there he flourished," Lang said. "My client accepts responsibility."
In a statement to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, Lang said her client accepted responsibility "fully understanding what the consequences would be at sentencing."
The resolution was negotiated and acceptable to my client. Previously, he voluntarily entered a treatment program and through treatment he acknowledged his behavior and the impact it has had on others.
These are the first steps towards rehabilitation and insuring that this conduct will not occur again. He is truly remorseful for his actions. Dan, and his family, pray for healing for the women, their families, and everyone affected by this situation.
In court, Drill-Mellum reportedly said he was "deeply sorry."
"No one should have to endure the trauma and harm I have caused you," he said. "I have only begun to understand the impact I have had on you."
Abby told BuzzFeed News she’s happy Drill-Mellum received some prison time but said the sentence still feels like “a slap on the wrist.”
“I wish we lived in a country where the sentence could be longer,” she said. “For what he did to me, nothing would feel long enough.”
She also said she does not believe Drill-Mellum regrets his behavior.
“I have no other words for him,” she said in her impact statement. “He knows what his actions were, and I have never seen any remorseful or apologetic behavior from him.”
Abby said the last two years have been devastating. She is now a senior at the University of Minnesota, but had to take some time off after the rape.
“Going back to campus was difficult,” she said. “But I had to go back. I had to finish school. Money-wise it’s the only school I can afford. There wasn’t really any other option for me.”
On Wednesday, Abby came forward on Facebook in a lengthy post she said is difficult to share publicly. [The post, reviewed by BuzzFeed News, is only visible to her Facebook friends.]
“I’m tired of having to stay quiet about what happened to me,” she wrote on Facebook. “I am not the one who needs to be ashamed.”
The other victim, who has not been identified, also read her impact statement in court and said Drill-Mellum “did not impact my life.” Rather, she said, “he completely uprooted and altered it. In one night I felt like my life wasn’t mine anymore.”
“I am going to watch him walk out of this courtroom in handcuffs today and count it as a victory for all the daughters at the University of Minnesota,” she said in her statement. “A victory for women and daughters everywhere. I am proud that I had a part in putting him behind bars.”