Student says she was wrongly kicked out of BYU for outing friend's abuser

LAIE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An international student at Brigham Young University-Hawaii says she lost her student visa after trying to rescue a classmate from domestic violence.

Ines Almeida worked at the university's fitness center. And in April, she learned her best friend was in an abusive relationship after a co-worker alerted her that an assault had been captured on the gym's surveillance video.

Despite witnesses calling campus security, Almeida says no school officer ever showed up.

"Watching someone that you love being thrown to the floor, kicked, everything. It was horrible," said Almeida.

Almeida went to security multiple times to inquire about the school's investigation, but she says officers repeatedly blew her off. She became even more concerned after a heart-to-heart with her friend.

"She told me that no one knew about it. Not even her family. And this has been going on for a long time," Almeida said. "That's why I was even more scared because I realized she was alone in the situation."

Fearing for her friend's safety - after her friend's attacker showed up at the gym again, Almeida says she sent a clip of the surveillance video to the victim's brother. And when the school found out she released the video, she was fired and later kicked out of school for breaking university policy.

"I was never trained on the job about this policy," said Almeida. "My intentions were good. I didn't want to break any policy. I didn't want to do anything wrong. I was just trying to save someone."

In a statement, BYU-Hawaii said federal law prevents it from speaking about the case.

The statement continues: "We are confident that the university responded appropriately to the information it had which resulted in the suspension of the offending domestic abuser. BYU-Hawaii does not tolerate domestic violence, dating violence, or any other forms of sexual misconduct."

Almeida, who was forced to leave the country after losing her visa, said she believes the school didn't act quickly enough to protect her friend.

She said it three weeks for the school to remove him from campus.

"If they would have protected the victim right away, none of this would have happened," said Almeida.

Almeida added that her goal is to return to Hawaii in August and complete her master's degree at Hawaii Pacific University. But she fears immigration might not grant her another student visa because her original one was terminated.

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