MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A third lawsuit was filed this month against Rhodes College and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity following an alleged sexual assault at a party. The two other lawsuits against Rhodes College were resolved through a settlement in August.
The alleged sexual assault happened last year at an on-campus Valentine’s Day party at the SAE fraternity house. Memphis police investigated and no arrests were made.
Rhodes College investigated as well and two SAE fraternity members were expelled, including the accused offender. His expulsion was later reversed.
The Rhodes College student told police the sexual assault happened inside the attic of the SAE fraternity house on the college’s campus at a Valentine’s Day formal last winter.
In the lawsuit filed earlier this month by the former Rhodes College student, she is referred to as “Jane Doe.”
Court documents say the woman’s alleged attacker, one of the SAE fraternity members named “John Smith” in the lawsuit, “made her multiple Vodka drinks” and “encouraged her to ingest illegal drugs” before leading her to the attic where “she became incapacitated.”
After the alleged assault Doe “felt her body bruised and sore because of the assault on her body” the lawsuit says.
Doe is now seeking compensatory and punitive damages not only from Rhodes College but also the alleged offender, along with the SAE national and local chapters.
The lawsuit cites accusations against SAE on both a local and national level and claims Rhodes was aware of alcohol and drug abuse at parties but did nothing to stop it.
In response to the lawsuit, Rhodes College spokesperson said, “The college recognizes the courage it takes for victims of sexual assault to come forward. Rhodes is committed to approaching the legal process with as much sensitivity and care as possible while defending the college against the claims asserted against it in the complaint.”
A spokesperson for Sigma Alpha Epsilon says it does not comment on legal proceedings.
John Smith’s attorney filed a response to the lawsuit Wednesday with a different account of that night. The attorney says Doe asked for the drinks the night of the party and says on her own Doe took illicit drugs that night. The response also claims Doe was never alone at the party.