Student Sues Wesleyan Over 'Rape Factory' Frat House
HARTFORD (CN) - A Wesleyan University student was sexually assaulted at a Beta Theta Pi Fraternity house known as the "Rape Factory," the former student claims in court.
Jane Doe, of Maryland, sued the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, its Mu Epsilon Chapter and Wesleyan University, in Federal Court. She also sued the owner, landlord and manager of the Beta House, the Raymond Duy Baird Memorial Association.
Wesleyan, of Middletown, Conn., has about 2,900 undergraduates and 200 graduate students.
"Beta House has a long-documented history of dangerous misconduct, student injuries and numerous sexual assaults of women, resulting in Beta and Mu Epsilon losing recognition from Wesleyan as a student organization and gaining the reputation in the Wesleyan community as the 'Rape Factory'," the complaint states.
"On March 5, 2010, Wesleyan officials sent a warning to all Wesleyan students, instructing them to stay away from Beta House because it was dangerous and Wesleyan could not ensure students' safety on the premises. This followed numerous incidents of student injury and hospitalizations."
Doe claims the fraternity defendants, Mu Epsilon and its parent, "refused to make safety changes requested by Wesleyan, including refusing to grant Wesleyan public safety officers access of right [sic] to the property."
Doe, who began classes at Wesleyan in the fall of 2010, claims that neither the college nor the fraternity provided her or her parents "with any warning, other safety information, or precautions regarding Beta House and events at this location. Jane Doe was entirely unaware of the risks to women attending student events at the 'Rape Factory.' She attended the Halloween party and was raped; another female student also reported being raped at the Beta House that weekend."
Doe says the resident assistant at her dorm, a Wesleyan employee, was notified about her rape on Oct. 31, 2011, but the RA "did not notify the police, campus safety, or the administration."
Because the student health services office was closed on Sunday, Oct. 31, Doe says, she did not receive medical attention until Monday. "When she was finally able to seek treatment and report the rape, Wesleyan advised that she could go to the hospital but offered neither transportation nor accompaniment," the complaint states. "Wesleyan did not offer any services or other academic help to Jane Doe, not advising or even allowing her to lessen her course load or withdraw from classes without penalty."
The complaint continues: "After these rapes, Wesleyan again warned the campus community about the risks of attending events at Beta house, and prohibited students from living at Beta House or using it for social and academic events. This spurred campus-wide 'Free Beta' protests and rallies organized by members of Beta, including Beta House residents. Through no fault of her own, Jane Doe's identity had become known to certain Beta and Mu Epsilon members.
"Crowds of 'Free Beta' protesters organized rallies and/or chanted outside Jane Doe's dormitory and in university spaces when she was present. Jane Doe secluded herself, hiding in her room, missing class and meals, and suffering further injury and harm. Jane Doe and her parents requested additional security at her dormitory and academic buildings, but Wesleyan refused those requests, even though the assailant was not arrested until more than two months after the rape. Wesleyan did nothing to prevent, and was deliberately indifferent to, the harm caused to Jane Doe by the rape and outrageous sexual harassment and intimidation that followed here everywhere on campus."
Her assailant eventually pleaded guilty to assault and unlawful restraint and is serving a 15-month prison term, Doe says in the complaint.
She says she took medical leave and transferred to another school in another state, but Wesleyan refused to refund any of her tuition. The "Free Beta" protests also forced her roommate to withdraw from school, Doe says, and Wesleyan's negligence cost her a year of her education.
She seeks punitive damages for negligence, Title IX violations, and premises liability.
She is represented by Timothy O'Keefe, with Kenny, O'Keefe & Usseglio of Hartford and Douglas Fierberg with Bode & Grenier of Washington D.C.