A Wesleyan University student has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Psi Upsilon fraternity and its Wesleyan chapter. It’s alleged in the lawsuit that the Defendants’ negligent conduct allowed the student to be raped in the common room of the fraternity house during a party last May. The lawsuit names Psi Upsilon Fraternity Inc., its Xi Chapter, the former social chairman of the fraternity and the alleged assailant, as well as several unnamed fraternity members, as Defendants.
Wesleyan University, which expelled the alleged assailant after disciplinary proceedings, is not named as a defendant. The lawsuit claims that because the fraternity house is on campus and is qualified by the university as “program housing,” the organization is responsible for managing their activities to keep residents and guests safe. According to the complaint, under the university’s Community Standards and Residential Regulations, the host of a social event will be held liable for harm caused by its guests. Timothy O’Keefe, the lawyer who represents the Plaintiff, stated:
This fraternity and its members entered into a contract with Wesleyan University by which it agreed to take steps to ensure the safety of its social guests. The evidence we present in court will demonstrate that it failed to abide by the terms of that agreement. As a result, a young woman was sexually assaulted at its premises. This suit seeks just compensation and accountability for her harms.
According to the complaint, in May 2013 the student was in her freshman year at the university and attended a party at the Psi Upsilon fraternity house. It was alleged that the party was “wildly out of control,” fraternity pledges performed a “strip show” and many of the fraternity members and guests were “underage and extremely intoxicated.”
It was further alleged in the complaint that when the student tried to leave the party, she was grabbed by a fraternity member and thrown onto a couch in the house’s common room. The fraternity member, who was naked, raped the student in the common room, according to the complaint, “in the presence of numerous others.” The student sought out medical assistance and contacted the university’s public safety department. She then brought disciplinary proceedings against her alleged assailant through the university. He was expelled from school.
In a written statement, university President Michael S. Roth said that Wesleyan’s internal investigation of the incident led to sanctions against the fraternity and some individual members. The alleged perpetrator was also kicked out of school. President Roth added:
On behalf of the university community, I want to express our horror at this shameful assault. Sexual violence on college campuses is a national problem, and it’s important to raise awareness about this issue.
President Roth said in an interview that the university has not previously spoken publicly about the assault out of concern for the victim’s privacy. He added that there are three residential fraternities on campus and while they enjoy some autonomy, all have seen increased scrutiny in the past few years. According to the complaint, the alleged victim placed herself on leave of absence status from the university and returned home. It’s alleged that she has received medical and psychological treatment for damage caused by her assault.
Source: Hartford Courant
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