September 13, 2013 08:56AM
By DAVE COLLINS
HARTFORD — A former Wesleyan University student who said she was sexually assaulted at a frat house known as the “rape factory” in 2010 has settled a lawsuit against the private liberal arts school and a chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, according to court documents.
The student alleged Wesleyan officials knew that Beta House, home of the Mu Epsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi, was a dangerous place for women because of numerous sexual assaults there but failed to protect her and other female students. The woman, who is from Maryland and known only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, sued for $10 million last year.
U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford issued an order last month to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the parties in the case reported it had been settled. Terms were not disclosed.
Lawyers in the case and a Wesleyan spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday.
The woman said she was a freshman at the Middletown school in October 2010 when she was locked in a room and raped during a Halloween party at Beta House. She also claimed another woman reported being raped at Beta House the same weekend.
The attacker, now serving a 15-month prison sentence, was a friend of a Beta member and didn’t attend the school, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said the woman had no idea there had been numerous previous assaults at Beta House, but Wesleyan officials were well aware of that history and failed to take adequate actions to fix the problem. Wesleyan did order safety changes at the frat house, but those orders were ignored, the lawsuit said.
“Beta House has a long-documented history of dangerous misconduct, student injuries and numerous sexual assaults of women, resulting in Beta ... gaining the reputation in the Wesleyan community as the ‘Rape Factory,’ ” the lawsuit said.
In 2005, Wesleyan revoked recognition of the fraternity as a student group after repeated misconduct and failure to comply with school rules, according to the lawsuit. Although the recognition was never regained, students have been allowed to continuing using Beta House and living there, the plaintiff said.
After numerous student injuries and hospitalizations, Wesleyan officials warned students months before the woman’s assault to stay away from Beta House because it was dangerous and the university couldn’t ensure their safety, the lawsuit alleged.
After Jane Doe was assaulted at the Halloween party, school officials again warned students about Beta House and prohibited students from living there or using the house for social and academic events, the plaintiff said. That sparked campus-wide “Free Beta” protests organized by members of Beta and Beta House residents, which caused the school to reverse the prohibitions on Beta House, the lawsuit said.
Jane Doe said protesters rallied and chanted outside her dormitory. She said she was traumatized, forced to hide in her room and missed classes.
Doe also accused Wesleyan officials of doing little to help her after the rape, so she took a medical leave and eventually transferred to another school in another state.
The lawsuit also alleged Wesleyan violated the federal Title IX law by not protecting Doe against discrimination and harassment.