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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Raped at Wesleyan Frat Party, Student Claims

HARTFORD (CN) - A Wesleyan University student who says she was publicly raped as she tried to leave a PSI Upsilon Fraternity party is suing the fraternity and the chapter house where she says she was attacked.

Cabri Chamberlain sued the Psi Upsilon Fraternity, its local Xi chapter on the Middletown campus, and Kwame Chihombori-Quao, her alleged assailant, in Federal Court.

Chamberlain says in the lawsuit that she was invited to a party at the fraternity house by a dormitory hallmate. When she arrived at the party on May 3, 2013 a pledge "strip show" was just getting under way.

"This pledge event had been promoted, among Xi members exclusively, as an opportunity to engage in sexual encounters with female guests," the complaint states. "Many of the pledges and attendees were underage and extremely intoxicated."

With the party "wildly out of control," Chamberlain tried to find her friend and leave. She claims that as she walked toward an exit door, "a male picked her up from behind, put her on a tabletop, and started grinding with her. Cabri pushed his hands off her, climbed down, and continued heading towards the exit. Defendant Kwame Chihombori-Quao, naked and standing nearby, grabbed Cabri around the waist and before she could reach the exit he threw her over the leg of a couch, pulled down her leggings, and raped her in the presence of numerous others."

Cabri called public safety after leaving the party and was taken to a hospital, where a rape kit was performed. Chihombori-Quao was expelled from Wesleyan, according to the lawsuit.

Wesleyan is not named as a defendant, but Wesleyan President Michael Roth released a statement responding to the lawsuit.

"We intend to focus our attention on improving the safety of these spaces," Roth said. "I wish to express our horror at this shameful assault."

The local chapter of Psi Upsilon did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

In the lawsuit, Chamberlain claims there was no security or other form of "sober, responsible management" at the party.

Chamberlain says she has received leave of absence from the university and has undergone medical and psychological treatment for her injuries.

She claims that the fraternity breached its duty by "holding regular and notorious parties that involved provision of alcoholic beverages to minors and inebriates, that by virtue of their promotion and exhibition of live male nudity, created an environment that made sexual assault and rape likely, and otherwise violated applicable law, ordinances, regulations, and codes so as to create a public nuisance and a danger to women."

She seeks damages and punitive damages for negligence, premises liability, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, medical bills, pain, suffering and trauma.

She is represented by Timothy O'Keefe, with Kenny, O'Keefe, and Usseglio.

The cover story in this month's Atlantic magazine is a long inquiry into fraternity rapes, and the powerful law factories the fraternities are able to hire to defend themselves from rape and abuse allegations.

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