The under-fire fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon sold both its chapter houses on Lake Place in May, according to New Haven County public records. DKE is currently being investigated by Yale Deputy Title IX Coordinator Jason Killheffer over allegations that the fraternity has a hostile sexual climate.
According to the public records, the houses, located side-by-side at 73 and 79 Lake Place, were sold on May 18 by the Mother Phi Foundation, now known as Delta Kappa Epsilon Council, Inc. The houses were sold for $210,000 and $185,000, respectively, to the Clifford Group, a real estate company that specializes in quickly buying distressed properties in Connecticut for cash.
Clifford Group President Jeff Tomek, DKE’s national organization and DKE leadership at Yale did not respond to multiple requests for comment. It remains unclear whether DKE plans to purchase a new house to hold parties and other events.
Yale undergraduates and graduate students are now renting out DKE’s former house at 79 Lake Place. Amy Nichols ’20, who moved in on Monday, said she was contacted by Tomek after posting that she was searching for a place to rent on the Free and For Sale Facebook page.
“The house is still being renovated,” Nichols said. “I was very impressed. Jeff put in new floors and redid the electricity and heating. My experience in the house has been super positive.”
Nichols said Tomek was looking for a “different type of crowd” to rent the property than the house’s previous tenants.
According to a student familiar with DKE who requested anonymity to speak openly about the situation, DKE brothers are still occupying the red house at 73 Lake Place. DKE’s leadership felt “blindsided” by the sale of the houses, the student said.
DKE came under intense scrutiny last year after the News and Business Insider published detailed accounts of sexual assault allegations against multiple DKE members, including a former president of the fraternity who had been suspended by Yale. After the allegations surfaced, the fraternity temporarily halted all social activities and asked its national organization to conduct an investigation of the fraternity, which later found “no evidence of a culture of sexual hostility or sexual harassment.” DKE also pledged to implement a set of reforms to create a safer environment at the fraternity. The list of reforms included several improvements to the house, such as building an additional banister for the staircase leading to the front door, maximum house occupancy guidelines and restricted access to the front porch.
Despite pledging to implement changes, DKE faced additional public allegations of sexual misconduct. On Feb. 20, the News published eight previously unreported allegations of sexual misconduct against current and former DKE members. Two days later, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun announced that the University would conduct a review of DKE, led by Killheffer.
“Clearly, there are specific concerns about DKE,” University President Peter Salovey told the News on Feb. 22.
DKE resumed social activities in early March after implementing new reforms. Hundreds of students later boycotted the fraternity’s annual post-Spring Fling party, Tang, in April. Killheffer did not respond to requests for comment on the status of the DKE investigation.
Before purchasing the blue multi-family house at 79 Lake Place in 1988, DKE — whose alumni include Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 and former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush ’48 and George W. Bush ’68 — did not have their own house and held meetings in residential colleges.
The fraternity Alpha Delta Phi purchased the home at 73 Lake Place in 1988. However, ADPhi struggled to maintain a chapter on campus and sold its house to DKE, according to David Easlick, who served as DKE’s executive director from 1989 to 2009 and operated both fraternity houses from 2010 to 2013.
The houses changed ownership again in 2013, when James Bishop purchased them amid a feud among DKE board members over the future of Yale’s chapter. Easlick said DKE’s national organization was considering taking control of the DKE houses and dissolving the Yale chapter when Bishop “stepped up and bought them” for $451,000. Bishop founded the Mother Phi Foundation, an alumni-sponsored nonprofit, to specifically support Yale’s chapter.
Bishop died on May 24, six days after the sale of the DKE houses. Easlick speculated that his death may have played a role in Mother Phi Foundation’s decision to sell the properties.
Olivia Martson, a real estate agent who works on High Street, said she was glad to hear that the fraternity houses were sold.
“The fraternities are destroying High Street,” Martson said. “They just don’t have any respect for the properties at all.”
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