Sororities suspend mixers with LEO following rape allegation against ousted vice president
LEO has expelled the member from the fraternity and pledged to make policy changes in the wake of assault allegations first raised in September.
Marisa Peryer, Senior Photographer
Content Warning: This article contains references to sexual violence.
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Yale’s chapters of the Alpha Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta and Pi Beta Phi sororities have all suspended social events with Yale fraternity LEO after sexual assault allegations were raised against a member of the fraternity.
A female student — who has been granted anonymity to protect her privacy — told the News that she was raped in the LEO house on Sept. 23, 2022 by the fraternity’s then-vice president, whom she encountered for the first time during a “crush” party held at LEO that night. The News has obtained texts sent by the female student to two friends on the night of the event which corroborate her account of the night. The alleged assailant did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The alleged assailant has since been expelled from LEO and evicted from the fraternity house. But the female student, who passed LEO brothers on the stairs before and after the alleged assault occurred on an upper floor, said that she finds all members of the fraternity who attended the event to be at fault for their inaction.
“I don’t excuse any of them,” the female student told the News.
She described an “anything goes” party environment at LEO, where members are often willing to overlook the problematic behavior of their peers. At the fraternity, she said, it feels like some members implicitly endorse a hostile environment through their reluctance to intervene when female partygoers are made to feel uncomfortable.
In a collective statement to the News, LEO leadership claimed that the alleged assailant’s actions were not representative of the fraternity as a whole, adding that LEO does not tolerate sexual misconduct by its members.
The female student said that the months since the alleged assault have been the worst of her life. She explained that she has experienced anxiety, depression and insomnia — making it difficult to complete schoolwork or go about everyday activities.
“I was severely distressed and having panic attacks,” the female student said. “My friends would find me on the floor of the bathroom crying.”
She explained that she was willing to speak to the News about her experience because she is “horrified by the maintenance of the status quo at LEO” and wants to make the process of reporting sexual misconduct easier for others in the future.
“It’s really hard because this is never going to be over for me, but for the rest of the world, it is,” she said. “I think that any member with moral integrity should drop.”
The challenge of reporting
LEO — previously known as Sigma Alpha Epsilon — announced their disaffiliation from the national fraternity in May of 2016, formally breaking away in August of 2018. The break from SAE, which LEO representatives told the News at the time was because they no longer wished to rely on the national organization for resources, came after the chapter made national headlines for allegedly hosting a “white girls only” Halloween party in 2015. The same year, the chapter was banned from campus by then-Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway following allegations of sexual misconduct within the fraternity.
LEO leadership became aware of the recent assault allegations on Sept. 26, when they were contacted through a friend of the female student who acted as an intermediary, according to LEO’s statement to the News. This friend, who has been granted anonymity to protect the privacy of the female student, confirmed to the News that this communication occurred.
On Sept. 29, the female student contacted Yale’s Title IX office to request a No-Contact Arrangement, which would prevent the alleged assailant from interacting with her. She did not file a formal complaint against the alleged assailant through the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct because she feared that “the long, arduous process” of the investigation would force her to “relive the traumatic experience over and over again.”
According to LEO’s statement, a member must notify the fraternity’s executive board within 24 hours if they learn that a formal complaint of sexual misconduct has been made against them through University reporting processes. Per fraternity policy, the member would then be suspended until the complaint had been resolved, and their membership would be revoked if the University found them to be at fault. Since the female student did not make a formal complaint to the University, the alleged assailant was not immediately suspended.
Communicating through the intermediary, LEO informed the female student that an oral testimony or written statement would be needed to trigger the judicial process within the fraternity. According to their statement, the fraternity requested “as much information as the victim was willing to provide,” assuring her that the oral or written testimony would be kept confidential.
The female student explained that she resorted to contacting leadership through an intermediary because there was no formal system for reporting allegations of assault to LEO. Had she not had friends with connections to fraternity leadership, she said, she would not have known a way to make these allegations known. She added that she received very little information about the details she would need to include in her statement to the fraternity.
“The process was so unclear,” the student told the News. “It was evident they had no idea what they were doing.”
When asked if they had mechanisms in place for reporting sexual assault, LEO told the News that the Judicial Board of LEO — their “investigative and disciplinary body” — serves as the fraternity’s “sexual misconduct reporting mechanism.” The Judicial Board consists of an elected “Judicial Officer,” the fraternity president and four members chosen by the Judicial Officer “based on their ability to investigate the given matter impartially.”
Neither the name of the Judicial Officer nor the LEO president are listed on the fraternity’s website, where the fraternity directory is password-protected.
Consequences within LEO
On Dec. 1, the female student delivered her statement to LEO, providing a detailed account of the alleged assault and requesting that the accused member be expelled from the fraternity and evicted from the LEO house at 35 High Street. The News has reviewed this statement.
The female student explained that the decision to deliver the statement was a challenging one to come to.
“I was wrestling with the mental toil of reliving the experience,” the student told the News. “As well as the reality of what coming forward would be.”
In the statement, she also offered a list of internal changes she hoped to see enforced at LEO. These include mechanisms to anonymously report sexual misconduct, have sober monitors at parties, have monitors for the upstairs areas and encourage bystander intervention.
“If one person had asked me ‘Are you okay?’ the situation could have been prevented,” the female student said.
LEO representatives told the News that once the female student submitted her statement, they immediately suspended the alleged assailant. The Board read the female student’s statement and heard oral testimony from the accused member on Dec. 4 — proceedings were delayed because the accused was out of state — and unanimously decided to expel the member, blacklist him from future events and evict him from the house.
The Judicial Board’s decision was informed by advice of legal counsel and a recent Yale graduate who served as a Communication and Consent Educator, according to the LEO statement. The alleged assailant was given until Jan. 17, the first day of classes for the spring semester, to vacate the house.
But the female student said it was not until after she had turned in the statement that LEO leadership informed her that the alleged assailant had the option to appeal his expulsion.
Although her name and written statement would remain confidential in the case of the appeal, every member of LEO would be given further information on the alleged assault and the opportunity to vote on whether to expel the accused from the group, according to both LEO’s statement and texts between LEO leadership and the female student that have been obtained by the News. Overturning the Judicial Board’s decision would require a two-thirds majority as well as approval from the Executive Board.
Members of LEO did not address an inquiry from the News into the date that the female student was informed about the possibility of the appeals process.
The accused student did not appeal the decision. On Dec. 5, all LEO members were informed that the accused student had been found responsible for committing sexual assault and expelled from the fraternity, and on Dec. 7, the fraternity held an emergency election to fill his position.
LEO then informed all members that the rest of the fraternity’s events for the remaining weeks of the semester would be canceled — including its formal on Dec. 11 — to give time for the fraternity’s leaders to “reflect and begin the process of drafting and implementing additional preventative measures in the wake of the incident.”
On Dec. 11, the Executive Board of LEO met with the leadership of Alpha Phi, Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta. During this meeting, LEO told the News that they explained the incident “without violating the victim’s request for confidentiality” and asked for input on changes that could be made in the immediate future, according to LEO’s statement.
In light of this meeting, all three sororities have suspended social events with LEO – Theta indefinitely, Pi Phi and Alpha Phi at least until spring break.
Yale Kappa Alpha Theta president Amanda Robinson ’24 told the News that Yale’s Theta chapter did not plan to hold events with LEO “for the foreseeable future.” Robinson referred the News to a statement that then-Theta President Meghan Backoo ’23 made last year, referring to national sorority policy for holding social events with other organizations.
“For the well-being of our members, we must re-evaluate our relationships with those social groups in violation,” Backoo’s statement reads. “Through these actions and policies Theta intends to advance positive social climates that Yale women enter into, as the safety and empowerment of our broader Yale community are of the utmost importance.”
Yale Pi Beta Phi president Amelia Lower ’24 — who serves as a staff reporter for the News — wrote that after the Dec. 11 meeting with LEO leadership, she informed members of the sorority of the situation during their chapter meeting the next evening.
“Soon after our leadership voted to temporarily postpone mixers with LEO until we reevaluate,” Lower wrote in a statement to the News.
Alpha Phi President Grayson Lambert ’25 — who is also a staff reporter for the News — confirmed that Alpha Phi would suspend mixers with LEO in order to “ensure safety for all members” of the sorority. Lambert told the News that Alpha Phi will reevaluate the decision after spring break. A copy of the Alpha Phi spring 2023 social calendar, which was been obtained by the News on Feb. 1, showed no events planned with LEO until a “wine and crime” themed event on April 1. The event has since been canceled.
Promises of reform
LEO’s bylaws — while written based on consultations with CCEs and drawn from “university guidelines and national fraternity constitutions” per LEO’s statement — were enacted with no national oversight after LEO announced their disaffiliation from SAE.
In their statement to the News, LEO representatives detailed recent changes they have made to their bylaws on the advice of their legal counsel and the recently-graduated CCE. The amendments, which passed separately on Dec. 14 and Jan. 25, went into effect at the start of the semester.
These amendments include increasing the number of sober monitors at events, increasing the number of members responsible for monitoring upper floors of the house, improving access to contact information of members and improving “bar management protocols,” along with more frequent consent and bystander intervention trainings.
LEO also promised to post QR codes at fraternity events which link to the phone numbers of the sober monitors. The QR codes, according to the statement, “dually serve as a reporting mechanism for incidents including, but not limited to, sexual misconduct.”
But the female student told the News that she is not convinced these changes — many of which LEO claimed in their statement to have already practiced before the issue was raised — will be enforced or effective in preventing sexual assault within the fraternity.
“In theory there were sober monitors, but in practice there were not,” the female student told the News. “Within six months no one’s going to be a sober monitor anymore, and it will have been forgotten.”
The female student told the News that despite his expulsion from the fraternity, there are some members of LEO that still socialize with the man she says raped her. She added that the alleged assault could be traced to a lack of “basic decency” within the fraternity’s culture, stressing the responsibility that all members bear to make sure partygoers are safe during social events.
“For the sake of those who will step into LEO now and for years to come,” she told the News, “I want it to be safer for them.”
LEO is located at 35 High Street.
Update, Feb. 3, 1:30 p.m: The article has been updated to include comment from Alpha Phi President Grayson Lambert ’25, who confirmed that the sorority had suspended mixers with LEO “for the foreseeable future.”
Update, Feb. 3, 4:00 p.m: On Friday afternoon, a member of the Yale Alpha Phi executive board wrote in a group message to the chapter that the April 1 “wine and crime” themed event the sorority had planned to hold with LEO would be canceled in response to this article. The article has been updated to reflect this.