A teenage girl who alleges she was raped at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house near the Johns Hopkins University campus has sued the school and the fraternity, saying they were negligent by failing to provide a safe environment for guests.
The lawsuit filed last week in Baltimore Circuit Court alleges that the school and fraternity breached their duties by not preventing the consumption of alcohol by minors and failing to take proper steps to prevent rape at the fraternity house, among other things. It also claims the school and fraternity did not discipline fraternity members for "engaging in activities that created the dangerous conditions at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house."
According to the lawsuit, which seeks $30 million in damages, the 16-year-old girl attended the party in November 2014 with her 19-year-old sister after a fraternity member invited them. Fraternity members served her enough alcohol to bring her blood-alcohol level to 0.11 percent, a level consistent with intoxication and impaired judgment, the lawsuit says.
The university suspended the fraternity chapter amid a police investigation into the alleged assault.
The lawsuit also names Ethan J. Turner, 19, and Chaz Erick Haggins, 21, of Reisterstown as defendants. Both were criminally charged in the alleged rape and are scheduled for trial in Baltimore in August. Neither were students at Hopkins.
Police have said the two suspects are accused of forcing the victim to perform sexual acts and then raping her.
Attorney Warren Brown, who is representing Haggins in the criminal case, said he was surprised a civil lawsuit was filed.
"The state's case against my client simply is that this wasn't a forcible rape but that the young lady was too intoxicated to give consent," he said. "Well, everybody there was intoxicated. And that's voluntary intoxication."
Matthew Fraling, Turner's attorney in the criminal case, said: "We maintain our innocence. Mr. Turner is looking forward to his day in court."
A spokesman for the national headquarters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon said the fraternity does not comment on pending litigation.
Hopkins is one of more than 100 institutions nationwide — including four in Maryland — being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for their handling of sexual assault cases. Hopkins came under fire for not disclosing to the campus an alleged rape at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house in March 2013.
In a statement, Hopkins spokesman Dennis O'Shea said the university fully cooperated with police in the criminal investigation and that "the allegations of sexual assault in this case are deeply upsetting, and the victim is foremost in our thoughts."
"[The suspects] have no affiliation with the university, and the assault allegedly took place at a property owned by a third party," he said. "We will continue to cooperate with the pending criminal prosecution."
Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this article.