The Sigma Chi fraternity has placed itself on a form of social probation amid a controversial investigation into at least one sexual assault that allegedly took place at its Langdon Street house last October.
The Badger Herald learned of the investigation last week when the victim of the alleged incident came forward and revealed the story of how she was drugged and raped, allegedly by several members of Sigma Chi.
Detective Ann Turner of the Madison Police Department confirmed her office has been investigating the matter.
Since the investigation is ongoing, Turner could not offer any more details, only saying the case will remain open until suspects are found or statutes of limitations apply.
Though the victim has no recollection of the assault itself since she believes she was drugged, she said doctors who examined her the day after the incident believe due to the amount of tearing, several men “took turns” penetrating her.
The victim, a University of Wisconsin student and a member of the Greek community, said she is pleased some action concerning the incident is being taken, but no punishment would remedy what happened to her.
“Obviously [the probation] is something and I’m happy about it, but I personally think because they just recently raped someone that they should be kicked off campus,” she said.
In a statement e-mailed to the Herald, Michael Dunn, executive director of the Sigma Chi International Fraternity, said his organization is taking the allegations very seriously and is cooperating with both UW and police.
“While any statement is premature at this point, the alleged actions are inconsistent with the values of Sigma Chi,” Dunn wrote. “Pending a full investigation, we will take swift action to hold a member accountable for his actions should he be found responsible.”
The victim said she decided to come forward to the Herald after an interaction at a bar with another woman who said she was raped at the Sigma Chi house.
She added at the time of their conversation, the woman had yet to contact police or the Offices of the Dean of Students. After meeting the woman at the bar, the victim said she was so distraught she “almost threw up.”
A friend of the victim, who also chose to remain anonymous, was present during the Herald’s interview for emotional support.
She told a story of how she attended a party at the Sigma Chi house last spring and a member dropped a pill into her drink while she was looking away.
She said she turned back quickly enough to see the pill dissolving and proceeded to pour out the drink and leave the room.
Between these three alleged incidents, the victim’s friend said she is concerned sexual assault is common within Sigma Chi.
“[I]t seems like it’s a problem within their house — not just an isolated person, not just an isolated incident,” the victim’s friend said. “Obviously, if I was roofied almost a year ago at their house and two people have been raped there since, and we’ve only had one person come forward with it, it seems like there’s obviously other people.”
Though the victim’s friend never took any formal action against the member who allegedly dropped the pill in her drink, she said the incident concerns her because that individual is now on the Interfraternity Council’s executive board, which is the governing body for fraternities at UW.
“[IFC is] kind of like the good ol’ boys network,” the victim’s friend said. “You know this person, I know that person, I’ve got your back. It just kind of suppresses all other outside voices for the good of just protecting each other.”
The rape victim said she believes there is a tendency in the Greek community to not discuss or take action on sexual assault.
“I feel like it diminishes me as a rape victim,” she said. “It’s saying, ‘Oh, you know what, that was something bad, but we don’t really care about it because it will ruin the Greek reputation.'”
In an e-mail to the Herald, IFC President Nate Anderson said in cases such as these, IFC is not the entity that would investigate the allegations.
The Greek Judicial Board, comprised of students, would hear the victim’s complaint should she choose to file one. Additionally, the victim could file the report partially anonymously, with only the chief justice and Greek advisors knowing her name.
“The Interfraternity Council is disheartened and saddened by these allegations and hopes that if these allegations are substantiated, that those involved will be held accountable for their actions,” Anderson wrote.
Anderson did not offer any further comment on the investigation itself.
In a follow-up interview Monday, the victim said under no circumstances would she file a complaint unless there was a way for her to remain anonymous.
Sigma Chi President Andrew Thalhimer declined to comment Tuesday beyond the statement made by Dunn.
Susan Lorimor, spokesperson for Sigma Chi International Fraternity, said last week that individual chapters typically do not make comments to the press when asked about this kind of issue.
Due to federal privacy laws, Dean of Students Lori Berquam could not comment directly on the case but said in all sexual assault cases, her office works closely with the victim and MPD.
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CORRECTION: IFC President Nate Anderson’s name was spelled incorrectly. The error has been corrected in this copy. We regret the error.