Lawsuit claims Iowa State greek community targeted sexual assault survivor


Maggie Curry

A lawsuit claiming Iowa State University officials failed to stop members of the college’s Greek community from harassing and alienating a sorority member after she reported being sexually assaulted at a fraternity house in January 2015, as reported by the Des Moines Register.

It claims that Greek students referred to the now-former student as “the girl that got raped” and that she was receiving comments such as, “Nobody get near (her) or she’ll call the cops and claim rape,” the Register reported.

The Register also stated the lawsuit said the student contacted the Director of Greek Affairs Billy Boulden who said the retaliation would be addressed but ultimately quit responding to her emails. 

The retaliatory behavior was particularly aggressive because other Greek members blamed her for getting the fraternity where the assault happened — a “well-known ‘party house'” — shut down, according to the suit. 

The fraternity is not identified by name in the lawsuit. But the Register pointed out that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter house was closed in August 2015, in part because of a reported rape that matches the month and year of the assault described in the former student’s lawsuit, according to the Register.  

Lawyer Tom Newkirk, representing the student, told the Register several of the student’s own sorority sisters accused her of lying about the assault and asserted that the fraternity brother she accused “would never have done that,” according to the lawsuit. 

She enrolled at the university in fall of 2014 and dropped out after the fall 2015 semester because “her sorority would not support her, the Greek community banded together to isolate her and her academic performance suffered as a result of the hostile educational environment,” according to the lawsuit.  

The alleged assailant is not named as a defendant in the case, according to the Register.

The lawsuit names the university and the Iowa Board of Regents as defendants, alleges that officials’ inaction “fosters a pervasive culture of silence within the Greek community regarding issues of sexual assault and violence” according to the Register. The school violated the federal Title IX law by failing to address harassment and discrimination that became so problematic that the woman was unable to have equal access to educational opportunities, according to the complaint. 

Additionally, the lawsuit claims that the Dean of Students’ office failed to tell the woman’s professors that she needed academic accommodations while she dealt with the ongoing traumas of the assault and retaliation.