TD Chi implicated in updated sexual assault complaint against Union

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TD Chi implicated in updated sexual assault complaint against Union

The Theta Delta Chi (TD Chi) house on Union's campus. Photo by Alex Appel.

The Theta Delta Chi (TD Chi) house on Union's campus. Photo by Alex Appel.

The Theta Delta Chi (TD Chi) house on Union's campus. Photo by Alex Appel.

The Theta Delta Chi (TD Chi) house on Union's campus. Photo by Alex Appel.

Alex Appel, Editor in Chief

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A woman allegedly raped after attending a party at the Union College chapter of Theta Delta Chi (TD Chi) is suing the fraternity and accusing them of targeting women with date rape drugs. This lawsuit emerged as an amendment to a case in the U.S. District Court of Albany against the College, Chief of Staff Darcy Czajka, Director of Student Conduct Trish Williams and Title IX Coordinator Melissa Kelley by an anonymous Jane Doe who claims that they mishandled her complaint.

The amended lawsuit identifies the Alpha Chapter of TD Chi as a new defendant. “TD Chi is a dominant social institution that commonly and routinely hosts large parties, both on and off the College’s campus, with the intention of attracting vulnerable students, in particular young women, from the College to attend… the members of TD Chi hold a long-standing reputation for targeting female party-goers with spiked drinks in an effort to take advantage of them after the effects of the drugs and alcohol have set in – a practice commonly known as ‘date rape,’” the lawsuit states.

You can read the full updated complaint here: https://ecf.nynd.uscourts.gov/doc1/12515119450

The suit alleges that Union allows its all-male fraternities, especially TD Chi, “to foster a social environment rampant with sexual violence and harassment towards women.”

The plaintiff argues that the College does not do enough to regulate the activities of both on-campus and off-campus fraternities. Furthermore, the suit states that the College has policies that favor TD Chi.

In the spring of 2016, TD Chi lost their on-campus housing after “an incident where members attempted to ‘kidnap’ each other as part of an initiation ritual,” said the College’s spokesperson Philip Wajda. During their two years of probation, the chapter met weekly with the Director of Fraternity and Sorority life and implement an anti-hazing policy. Wajda stated that they “saw increased engagement from alumni” as a result of a new strategic plan that they had created during that time period.

As a result of this, TD Chi was allowed to return to campus at the start of the 2018-2019 academic year. “There have been no recent accusations of sexual harassment or assault made against the TD Chi fraternity,” according to Wajda.

Members of the Alpha Chapter of TD Chi directed the Concordiensis to their leaders in the Central Fraternity Office. Executive Director Brian Bertges said, “We know that there was a Title IX investigation. Beyond that, we have no additional information and cannot respond.”

The complaint claims that in the past several years “no less than 5 women” had reported being sexually assaulted and had their complaints ignored. Allegedly, some of these perpetrators were members of TD Chi. At the end of March, Chief Attorney for the plaintiff Andrew Miltenberg claimed that four women came forward to him after hearing about the complaint against Union that he filed on March 4.

Miltenberg declined to answer questions about the four women who contacted him in March and if he will be filing future lawsuits against the College on behalf of the women he alluded to in the complaint. He also did not comment on whether or not he had evidence that any of the women he mentioned in the complaint were sexually assaulted by members of TD Chi.

The new complaint also sheds light on details of the hearing. The lawsuit asserts that the man who allegedly assaulted Jane Doe admitted that she had stated she did not want to have sex with him before she had smoked marijuana. He claimed that after smoking marijuana, she changed her mind. By his own estimate, the alleged assaulter completed at least five Title IX training courses at Union. Despite this, when he was read the definition of the word “incapacitated” during his hearing he did not understand what the word meant.

The Hearing Panel allegedly concluded that the “Plaintiff could not have been incapacitated by a ‘small amount of marijuana.’” The Hearing Panel also allegedly stated, “We believe [Plaintiff] feels she was victimized, and the panel unanimously agrees that this is a valid feeling on her part. We feel it is possible for someone to give consent and still feel “used” after a sexual encounter.”

The updated complaint came after the College filed a motion to dismiss the original complaint against them on April 1. The College contended that they had abided by the Title IX investigative and adjudicative processes that they laid out in their policies, that the plaintiff failed to prove that “any alleged procedural errors” impacted the outcome of the trial and that the plaintiff could not prove intentional sex-based discrimination or infliction of emotional distress.

You can read the College’s full motion to dismiss here: https://ecf.nynd.uscourts.gov/doc1/12515098404

In response, the plaintiff pointed toward two alleged instances where Union follow its own Title IX policies. Union’s Title IX Policy states that after an investigation is requested, a complainant must submit a written statement detailing their allegations. The person being accused of misconduct, the respondent, will be asked to create a statement of their own concerning the complaint and “the Respondent will not be allowed to see the Complainant’s Statement until after the Respondent has filed their statement in response to the original Complaint Form.” The plaintiff accused Union of allowing the alleged assaulter of Jane Doe was allowed to read her statement before he submitted his own.

Additionally, the plaintiff claims that Kelley did not report Jane Doe’s initial complaint, made in September, 2017, to the “proper authorities.” Campus Safety received no reports of rape or sexual misconduct throughout the month of September, 2017.

“We are aware of the amended complaint and intend to respond in the appropriate forum, which is the court of law. We remain confident that the facts of the case will show the College acted appropriately, timely, and in accordance with its established policies and procedures,” said Wajda.

The College is set to give a response to this updated complaint on May 6, 2019. TD Chi will have until May 14 to deliver their response.

This is a developing story. Check back to Concordiensis.com for updates.