MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) - A federal lawsuit filed by a Wesleyan University student alleges a fraternity house was negligent in hosting a raucous party where she was sexually assaulted last May.
The complaint filed Tuesday names the Psi Upsilon fraternity and its local chapter as defendants along with the student who allegedly raped her.
The student said she was trying to leave the party on May 3 when a naked male student grabbed her, threw her over the leg of a couch and raped her in the presence of many others. The suit said the party was a pledge event that had been promoted among fraternity members as an opportunity to have sexual encounters with female guests and many of the attendees were extremely intoxicated.
Psi Upsilon director Tom Fox said the fraternity is investigating the incident and “takes all reports of risk management violations, especially those with regard to sexual assault, very seriously.”
The student brought disciplinary proceedings against the alleged assailant under the school’s code of conduct, according to the lawsuit, and he was expelled from Wesleyan. It is not clear from the complaint whether criminal charges were pursued.
University President Michael Roth said an internal investigation that led to the student’s dismissal also produced sanctions against the fraternity and individual members. He said the university had not spoken publicly about the case out of concern for the woman’s privacy.
“Now that civil proceedings have commenced, on behalf of the university community, I want to express our horror at this shameful assault. Sexual violence will never be tolerated on our campus,” Roth said.
The complaint argues that under the university’s regulations, the host of a social event is liable for harm caused by its guests, and the woman was assaulted as a result of the fraternity’s negligence.
The complaint says the woman who filed the lawsuit has taken a leave from the university and undergone medical and psychological treatment for her injuries.
In September, a former Wesleyan University student who said she was sexually assaulted at another frat house in 2010 settled a lawsuit against the private liberal arts school and a chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
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