A former Arizona State student claims that “ASU refused to authorize either a drug screen [or] rape kit for DNA analysis” and “obstructed and shut down the investigation” after she was drugged and sodomized at a Sigma Chi fraternity party. She claims campus police did not interview a single Sigma Chi member, blamed her for “having been forcibly sodomized,” and did it all “to make ASU appear safer than it was.”
Originally published by Courthouse News Service July 14, 2010.
The woman claims that ASU police officers conducted a shoddy, halfhearted investigation to minimize the university’s liability.
The woman sued the Arizona Board of Regents in Maricopa County Court, claiming the university violated Title IX by failing to fully investigate her claims.
She claims that ASU knew of “the risk of severe sexual harassment, including sexual assault, of female students at the Sigma Chi house on its campus,” but that ASU sought to use “pressure or policy to minimize sexual assault reports to make ASU appear safer than it was.”
The plaintiff, a former member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, says she went to a toga party thrown by members of Sigma Chi, where she was given alcohol. She was 19 at the time.
At the party, she says, Matt Potter, a Sigma Chi member, gave her a drink “that had been spiked with a drug designed to incapacitate her and impair her memory.”
She says her memory of the night was impaired by the drink, and that she woke up the next day at the Sigma Chi house with severe rectal pain, without her purse and some of her clothing.
She says two friends and the president of the ASU Panhellenic Council took her to Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital, where a sexual assault examination determined that she had been “sodomized with significant ‘anal injury’ with rectal and vaginal pain, bloody stool, and exposure to bodily fluids.”
She says that despite her injuries and a request from the emergency room physician, ASU police officers refused to authorize a rape kit, drug screen, or a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) examination. She says the officers blamed her for “having been forcibly sodomized.”
She claims that “the reason [ASU] Officer Janda would not conduct a proper investigation of [her] sodomy and sexual assault because she had consumed alcoholic beverages before the assault, was a pretext to minimize ASU’s liability.”
After she was released from the hospital, she says, her sister drove her to Tucson, where she was examined by a physician at Northwest Medical Center Hospital and was found to be a “crime victim” of “sexual assault.” By that time, she says, it was too late to perform a drug screen or rape kit.
She claims that members of Sigma Chi and her sorority identified David Gallagher, a Sigma Chi member, as one of her assailants. She says Gallagher went by the nickname “Therapist” – “which stood for ‘The Rapist'” – at the fraternity.
ASU’s Office of Student Life, Judicial Affairs interviewed her once, and interviewed only one of her sorority sisters for its investigation, she says. “No Sigma Chi members were ever questioned,” and ASU closed the investigation less than 2 months after the rape, according to the 21-page complaint.
“ASU has in recent years systematically and severely underreported sexual assault reports,” the complaint states. “For 2008, ASU reported and posted only four forcible sexual assault reports in its 2009 Annual Security Reports, despite, on information and belief, having received at least several dozen reports.
“On information and belief, the motivations of ASU police for refusing to investigate [the plaintiff’s] rape and sodomy included ASU’s pressure or policy to minimize sexual assault reports to make ASU appear safer than it was.”
ASU is required by the Clery Act “to report to the U.S. Department of Education, and to post publicly, all reports of sexual assaults made to campus police or its Judicial Affairs or other personnel,” according to the complaint.
But ASU never reported her rape and sodomy in its Annual Security Report, she says. And she says the school took no action against Gallagher or Potter or Sigma Chi.
ASU placed the fraternity on probation in 2003 for bruising pledges by paddling their buttocks, and ASU received a report of “screams for help and a possible violent sexual assault” in the house in that time, according to the complaint. It adds that Sigma Chi hazed Alpha Phi sorority pledges in 2006 by forcing them to unwillingly participate in “girl on girl” activities and stripteases.
The woman says she suffers severe post-traumatic stress disorder and dropped out of ASU after suffering panic attacks and fear while on campus. She filed a lawsuit in February against the Sigma Chi fraternity for civil conspiracy, battery and assault.
She seeks punitive damages for past and future tuition, expenses related to the sexual assault, and for pain and suffering. She is represented by Baine P. Kerr of Hutchinson, Black and Cook of Boulder, Colo., and Patricia Kirtley Wells of Phoenix.
Originally Published: July 14, 2010 by Jamie Ross | CourthouseNews.com