Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Woman Says Frat Party Entices Predators

Yup, this time it is one of our own - Texas Alpha - on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Woman Says Frat Party Entices Predators
     (CN) - A college freshman claims in court that she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted after being served a "trash can punch" laced with Everclear alcohol at a frat house party at the University of Texas at Austin.

     M.J. sued the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, its Texas Alpha Chapter and The University Of Texas Sig Ep Foundation, in Travis County Court. UTexas-Austin is not a party to the complaint.

     M.J. claims that the fraternity routinely gets young women drunk on "extremely alcoholic beverages" and fails to protect them from sexual predators.

     She says that in July 2010, while she was on campus for freshman orientation, she was invited to a "social event" at Sigma Phi Epsilon's fraternity house.

     She says she was served "extremely alcoholic beverages" at the party, and became "highly intoxicated."

     "At some point after midnight, (MJ) perceived her state of consciousness to be rapidly declining - she was going to sleep," the complaint states. "She started searching for her cell phone and purse with the intent of returning to her dormitory room, but never found her articles. During her search inside and on the grounds of the fraternity house, she at some point sat down and fell asleep - a deep sleep from which she could not easily be aroused. At no time prior to her sleep state did she consent to leaving the fraternity house and grounds with anyone, nor did she consent to sexual contact with anyone. During her sleep state she was not competent to grant any consent to anyone - factually or legally. She did not awaken from her sleep state until the next morning, when she found herself in the custody of a sexual predator in Williamson County. She had been sexually assaulted. She had been kidnapped."

     M.J. says the sexual predator dumped her at a McDonald's in Austin, "miles away from the university, without a telephone, without any money, and without a substantial portion of her undergarments."

     A person found her as "she wandered stunned and in shock" through a residential neighborhood, took her home and called an ambulance, M.J. says.

     She claims the fraternity endangers young women by allowing members to get them drunk at parties, leaving them vulnerable to sexual predators.

     "The invitation of incoming freshman women to parties at the Austin house of the Texas Alpha Chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity is an annual event during summer freshman orientation sessions," the complaint states. "The provision of 'trash can punch' to the young women, laced with Everclear grain alcohol and with other beverages containing high levels of alcohol, is a rite of passage and sexual opportunity for the members of the Texas Alpha Chapter. All University of Texas college men know of the process, and have for decades. As do the officers and directors of the national Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity corporate entity. And as do the officers and directors of The University Of Texas Sig Ep Foundation, which is the corporation holding title to the Pearl Street fraternity house. Notwithstanding this long-existing intent and knowledge, none of the defendants has acted to effectively control or reduce the danger of these parties. None of the defendants has acted to provide the intoxicated young women with safe transportation home. None of the defendants has acted to effectively secure the fraternity house premises. And the activities entice sexual predators to the neighborhood, if not into the fraternity house itself, as they know that at some point intoxicated young women will be exiting the premises. All of this has been known and observed by the concerned entity defendants for decades, and the individual fraternity members knew and observed it through their personal interaction with their predecessors over the three-year period before July 2010."

     M.J. seeks damages for assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and premises liability.

     She is represented by C. Wesley Jeanes of Dallas. 
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