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Former Wesleyan Student's Fed Suit Calls Fraternity 'Rape Factory'

A unnamed Maryland woman is suing the Middletown institution after she claims the university failed to protect her from a 2010 assault by a man visiting his brother at the Beta fraternity.

 

A former Wesleyan student who was assaulted at a fraternity house in October 2010 filed a federal lawsuit Friday, charging the university with failing to protect her from being raped during a Halloween party, according to the Hartford Courant.

The Maryland woman, known simply as “Jane Doe,” according to the Courant, termed the The Mu Epsilon chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at 184 High Street in Middletown, a "rape factory."

The student-run blog Wesleying gives some background into the fraternity’s campus history, referencing the university's factious relationship with Beta house, which may or may not have led to a murky understanding of which entity bears responsibility for such acts.

“Beta was the primary subject of some controversy very recently, as the University, in the midst of a smoldering disagreement with Beta, changed its housing policy to specifically declare that ‘Wesleyan students will be prohibited from residing in — or using for social activities — houses or property owned, leased or operated by private societies that are not recognized by the University,’” according to Wesleying.

In December 2010, the student newspaper, The Argus, ran an article, “Beta Update: Student Alleges Rape,” which references the so-called Jane Doe.

“The student, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was raped at the Beta fraternity house by an individual who is not a Wesleyan student on the night of Saturday, Oct. 30. According to her allegations, the assault took place in a room upstairs. The student said that she was sober that night.”

An Argus follow-up this past April, says the suspect in the Doe case plead guilty.

“On Thursday, April 19, defendant John O’Neill plead guilty to charges of assault and unlawful restraint, which were pressed by a Wesleyan student after an incident at the Beta Theta Pi (Beta) fraternity house on October 31, 2010. O’Neill, a 21-year-old non-Wesleyan student from Yorktown, N.Y., was visiting a brother at the Beta house during that Halloween weekend,” according to the Argus.

O'Neill, now 22, was sentenced to 15 months in jail this past June, according to the Middletown Press."

He "pleaded to third-degree assault and first-degree unlawful restraint under nolo contendre," the Press says, adding O’Neill was placed on suicide watch when he was taken into custody.

In April 2010, a Wesleyan student wrote a piece in the Argus, “Wesleyan’s Great, Unless You Get Raped,” which says she had been raped two and a half weeks prior on campus. In it, she charged, “There is a serious disconnect between the infrastructure set up on campus for victim of sexual assault and the administrations follow through.”

And she placed blame on university policy, “The rape culture on this campus is deeply internalized within our system of student’s sexual interactions.”

In March 2011, the Middletown Press reported that “Wesleyan administrators released the new policy, which forbade students from living, eating or socializing in facilities owned by private societies that aren’t affiliated with the university.”

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