Plaintiff sues UT fraternity over responsibility for assault


Ricky Llamas

UT Fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon is being sued by a former freshman who claims she was sexually assaulted after a party during new student orientation in 2010.

A former freshman is suing UT fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, claiming she was sexually assaulted after one of the organization’s parties during new student orientation.

The plaintiff said she was invited to a social event at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house the first night of July 2010 UT freshman orientation, according to the plaintiff’s original petition. The court document said she was served “trash can punch,” leaving her intoxicated and unable to consent to sexual activity. The plaintiff lost her cell phone and purse and began to search for the items but later sat down and fell asleep. According to the court documents, she woke the next day in the company of a sexual predator in Williamson County, later saying that she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted. The Daily Texan does not publish the names of alleged rape victims.

James Engels, sport management senior and president of Sigma Phi Epsilon’s UT chapter, declined to comment on the case. Citing the case as an ongoing lawsuit, University officials also declined to comment. UT-Austin is not involved in the lawsuit.

The plaintiff said by serving her punch with high levels of alcohol, the fraternity assaulted her and inflicted emotional distress. The student is also suing on the grounds of premise liability, claiming the fraternity failed to keep the house safe and is liable for her assault. She also claims the fraternity failed to provide intoxicated women with transportation home. The plaintiff’s lawyer did not return The Daily Texan’s calls for comment.

Despite knowledge of the effects of punch laced with alcoholic beverages such as Everclear, the plaintiff claims the fraternity has not acted to reduce the dangers of social events or parties. The documents state these activities “entice sexual predators to the neighborhood, if not into the fraternity house itself.”