Student accused of assault speaks out after protest


Joey Rubbico and Peyton Dillenberg holding signs during protest. Caroline Counter / The Paisano

Arnulfo Caballero

In this political climate, it is important to remember all free speech is free speech, not just speech that fits a narrative. Everyone has a right to speak freely, despite how much one may disagree with it. Joey Rubbico was part of the protest held by Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) on Oct 4. that supported the confirmation Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. During this event, Joey Rubbico was accused of assaulting an opposing protestor. 

Rubbico is a junior political science major and a YAF affiliate. During the event, he and his contemporaries were yelled at and harassed by a crowd that formed around them. The crowd stole items off the YAF table and destroyed YAF posters. In the middle of this chaos, Rubbico allegedly assaulted someone.

As someone attempted to steal his poster, Rubbico moved his hand back and brushed the person’s face. The person, an unknown female student, screamed that she was slapped and the crowd rushed to her aid. Flyers with his face and name were printed and passed out with the caption: “His name is Joey. He slapped a girl that was debating him. Remember his face. Shame him.” Joey reported feeling unsafe. “It made me feel awful and I was scared for my safety. It made UTSA PD fear for my safety.” Rubbico felt blindsided by the allegations and claimed he would never do something like that — yet there he was, scared for his life.

‘I was scared for my life’

Along with the flyers, a UTSA professor reportedly displayed a flyer on the projection screen in a classroom inside the McKinney Humanities Building. People took to Twitter to voice their disdain for Rubbico. People tweeted such things as “He slapped a girl? Let’s not shame him. Let’s find him and f*** this guy up” or cryptic messages like “He’ll be the first.” Rubbico stated he feared for his life so much that he left campus on Thursday and did not return the next day, in fear of the repercussions. In regards to this event, Rubbico mentioned he had “seen this kind of stuff on TV happening on other college campuses,” but didn’t imagine it would happen to him. Rubbico drew parallels to what happened to him and what happened to Kavanaugh; “It’s kind of ironic. We were protesting against false allegations, and now there’s a false allegation about me. I don’t think they understand the irony of what they are doing.” 

Rubbico also stated he has a great support system around him and stated that his friends, family and UTSA PD have helped him through these allegations. UTSA PD concluded that Rubbico was innocent of assault. Chief Gerald Lewis released a statement: “Based on a review of video, social media posts and interviews with students, the preliminary investigation has determined there was inadvertent and unintentional contact that does not fit the elements of an assault.” 

This experience has not changed Rubbico’s political stance despite the backlash he received for it.

 “I believe in my country. I believe in my president. I support President Trump, and no matter how you bully me, I will not vote the way you want because of bullying. I will vote the way I want, and you cannot tear me down,” said Rubbico.