YPD reports two sexual assault allegations

The Yale community received three emails last week reporting two separate complaints that two Yale students were sexually assaulted on the night of Feb. 8 at the same off-campus location.

Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins reported the two statements in separate emails to the University community on Feb. 19 and Feb. 21.  The messages stated that the alleged assaults occurred at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house, and the second email corrected the first by reporting that they were both said to have taken place on Feb. 8.

“I write to let [the University community] know that the Yale Police received an anonymous report today that a second Yale student was the victim of a sexual assault by an acquaintance, who is also a Yale student,” Higgins said in the Feb. 21 email.

On Feb. 22, President of the Yale Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter Andrew Goble ’15 issued a statement saying the fraternity allowed another student group to lease a room in its house for a private event on Feb. 8. The statement said the event was open to guests of that organization, which remained unnamed.

“The members of Yale’s SigEp chapter were shocked and saddened to hear allegations that sexual assault may have occurred in our facility on an evening when the chapter had leased event space to another campus organization,” Goble said in the statement. “At this time, SigEp does not believe that the allegations are against members of their chapter.”

In a Sunday email, University spokesman Tom Conroy said that he was not aware of who rented the house, or for what purpose.

On the same night of Feb. 8, a private party in connection with the Women in Power Society (WIPS) senior society, took place at the SigEp fraternity house. Nine students interviewed said that party had a “dominatrix” theme. Several attendees declined to provide additional details about the annual party.

The WIPS said in a statement to the News, “We are not commenting out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved in this situation.”

A student who attended the party and spoke on the condition of anonymity said the WIPS’ mission is to promote female empowerment.

Two attendees with knowledge of the party’s planning process said no money was exchanged between WIPS and SigEp.

In an email exchange with the News, Goble did not respond to questions about the party or the terms of the lease and said, “Out of respect to the ongoing investigation, we are going to allow the disclosure of information to be managed by the University and the investigating authorities as they feel it is appropriate.”

University Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler followed Higgins’s alerts with a Feb. 21 email to the University community, indicating that details they contained were sent under the regulations of the Federal Clery Act.

“I am writing to make you aware that my office is actively pursuing these allegations,” Spangler wrote in the email.

The Clery Act mandates that university police departments alert students, faculty and staff of any on-campus incident involving the Clery-reportable crimes, which include forcible and nonforcible sex offenses. Though SigEp’s housing facility is not a Yale building, its location within the University’s geographic boundaries necessitated Higgins’s reports.

Higgins’s emails did not include information on status of any YPD investigation, and New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman said that city police will not pursue the case until the department is approached.

“We don’t want to let people think that we don’t think something happened,” Hartman said. “But without a victim, there is no investigation.”

In response to complaints voiced following the publication of the University’s July 2013 report of sexual misconduct complaints that perpetrators did not receive adequate punishments, administrators released eight scenarios explaining examples of sexual misconduct and the disciplinary action involved in each case.

The SigEp fraternity house is located at 31 High St.

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