16-year-old girl reports that she was raped at Hopkins fraternity house

The Baltimore Sun
16-year-old reports being raped at Hopkins frat party, according to law enforcement sources

A 16-year-old girl reported that she was raped at a Johns Hopkins University fraternity over the weekend, according to law enforcement sources. University officials ordered the fraternity to cease activities as Baltimore police investigate.

The university notified students at 4 a.m. Sunday of the alleged sexual assault, which occurred about 1:30 that morning at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house in the 2900 block of St. Paul St. A female told police she was assaulted by two men; neither is believed to be affiliated with the school.

Hopkins officials referred additional questions to Baltimore police, who refused to release any details related to the case, saying that doing so would "compromise the integrity of the ongoing rape investigation."

But law enforcement sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case, said the victim was a 16-year-old girl from Baltimore County who had attended the party with her sister. The girl said she had been drinking and ended up in a bathroom with two men, the sources said.

The incident comes months after it was revealed that Hopkins failed to notify students of a rape reported at another fraternity house last year. Students filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, and the president of the university later said the failure to notify the community was "unacceptable."

This time, a notification was sent out within hours of the assault's being reported.

In a statement, the national headquarters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon said it is investigating the alleged sexual assault and would impose sanctions against members or the chapter if they had not followed guidelines for social events.

"Any form of assault or sexual misconduct is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate actions that are inconsistent with our values," according to the statement. "We are committed to the safety and well-being of our members and the guests with whom they interact, and that commitment includes making sure our members provide a safe, enjoyable environment in their homes."

The fraternity added that it supports "education and training that combats sexual assault in our communities and holds our members accountable."

Attempts to reach members of the fraternity at Hopkins were unsuccessful. The chapter's adviser declined to comment because of the investigation and referred questions to the national headquarters.

Laura Dunn, founder and executive director of SurvJustice, a Washington, D.C.-based sexual assault and harassment survivors advocacy group that lodged the federal complaint on behalf of the students over last year's incident, called the latest assault "heartbreaking."

"I am thankful to see that a timely warning went out to the community," said Dunn, who is a victim's rights attorney. "That was the reason for the initial Title IX complaint against Hopkins, so they are taking it seriously. They are alerting the community as they should."

Hopkins Student Government Association President Janice M. Bonsu said she was "very pleased" with the university's turnaround time on the notification.

"It has shown that we, as a campus community, have really re-evaluated how we process and address these issues," said Bonsu, noting a campaign called "It's On Us, Hopkins" to raise awareness about sexual assault.

Hopkins' email said the university would increase security in the area and conduct a review of the circumstances while police investigate the reported assault at the off-campus house.

"Until that review is completed, SAE has been directed not to hold parties or any other activities," said the email, which was signed by Vice Provost for Student Affairs Kevin G. Shollenberger and Vice President for Corporate Security Keith Hill.

In May, reports surfaced that an alleged rape had occurred at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house at Hopkins the year before, and a group of Hopkins students filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging that the university violated federal laws requiring the incident to be reported to the campus community in a timely manner. No one was charged in connection with the case.

In the federal complaint, the students alleged that failure to disclose the reported rape violated the Clery Act and Title IX, federal laws that dictate the way serious crimes like sexual assault should be handled by universities and reported to the public.

The school announced in mid-May that Pi Kappa Alpha had been suspended for the 2014-2015 academic year for violating several unspecified policies unrelated to the reported rape.

In October, after an internal investigation, President Ronald J. Daniels called the failure to report the alleged rape "unacceptable."

The university also created a team to provide consulting on timely warnings, added a 24/7 sexual assault hotline, and established a student advisory committee to give input on sexual violence.

Last Wednesday, about 50 Hopkins students staged an on-campus demonstration to coincide with the National Day of Action in Support of Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Students called attention to last year's incident and voiced displeasure with the way the university handled it.

Tamara Golan, a third-year doctoral student at Hopkins from Gaithersburg, took part in the rally. Asked about the alleged incident this past weekend, Golan said, "I think it's an improvement how quickly they responded. It speaks to the inadequacy of their previous responses, and I really hope they are sincere in their investigation and the suspension of the activities of the fraternity.

"It also shows how important it's been for students to put pressure on the university in how they are handling these things," she added.

jfenton@baltsun.com

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

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