By Will Anderson, News & Features Editor
A 16-year-old girl who was allegedly raped at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity house in November 2014 has sued the University, SAE and the two alleged rapists for $30 million in damages.
“As a direct and proximate result of Fraternity and JHU’s negligent conduct [the victim] was raped and sustained and continues to sustain injuries for which she is entitled to compensation,” the lawsuit states. The suit was filed on July 17 in Baltimore City Circuit Court.
The plaintiff alleges that the rape was a result of negligent behavior by Hopkins and its failure to provide a safe environment for guests. It claims that the University and SAE did not prevent underage alcohol consumption and did not take sufficient steps to prevent rape. The suit also claims that the fraternity members were not disciplined after the event.
Neither the victim nor the alleged rapists, Chaz Haggins and Ethan Turner, is affiliated with Hopkins.
The plaintiff attended a party at the SAE fraternity house on 2938 St. Paul Street, which is privately owned, with her 19-year-old sister after having been invited by a member of the fraternity. She was served alcohol at the party, drinking enough to reach a blood-alcohol level of 0.11, a level at which she was not physically able to give consent to any sexual relations, the lawsuit says.
The party occurred on November 1 of last year, and Haggins and Turner were charged with rape and other sexual assault-related charges on December 3. Their trial is scheduled for August.
Following the incident, the University placed SAE on suspension until the start of the 2016 spring semester, which will be followed by a probation through December 2016.
Hopkins has released a statement through spokesman Dennis O’Shea regarding the civil suit.
“The Johns Hopkins University has an abiding commitment to the well-being of our entire community and remains dedicated to keeping our students and visitors safe,” it stated. “The allegations of sexual assault in this case are deeply upsetting, and the victim is foremost in all of our thoughts.”
“Johns Hopkins cooperated fully with the police investigation, which culminated in the arrest of two suspects,” it stated. “Those individuals have no affiliation with the university, and the assault allegedly took place at a property owned by a third party. We will continue to cooperate with the pending criminal prosecution.
The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has said that the University has been fully cooperating with police throughout its criminal investigation.
“Following the incident, Hopkins suspended its SAE chapter, based on reports of underage drinking and other serious violations of university policy at the SAE party,” the statement said. “We remain committed to raising awareness in our community of the serious problem of sexual assault.”
The national headquarters of SAE told The Baltimore Sun that the fraternity does not comment on ongoing investigations or pending litigation.