JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A University of North Florida fraternity at the center of a rape investigation kept partying despite orders from the school forbidding them from hosting parties, according to records obtained by the News4Jax I-TEAM.
As the I-TEAM previously reported, the Kappa Sigma fraternity was removed from campus in July after an investigation into a complaint that a member of the organization raped a 19-year-old student at an off-campus fraternity party in February 2019 and members of the same fraternity later pressured her to keep quiet about it. Two students were disciplined in the case.
The woman, whose identity News4Jax is concealing for her safety, said she was drinking at the party when she went into the garage for another drink with a student she knew. She said she passed out and the next thing she recalled was waking up in his dorm room the next day with visible injuries. She went to the hospital where her case was documented.
“My body was completely destroyed and I was covered in bruises and I had hand prints and bruises,” said the woman, who reported the case to the university. She said she did not pursue criminal charges at the time because she did not wish to relive the ordeal.
Afterward, the woman said, she was approached by members of the fraternity who wanted her to deal directly with the organization instead of the university. She said they tried to “make me try to take it back just so they could keep partying and doing their thing.”
With the school’s investigation underway, limits were imposed on Kappa Sigma, barring the fraternity from holding social events, according to university documents released Friday.
But the investigation uncovered videos posted on social media showing what was described as a “clear social gathering with men and women, and alcohol.” A panel determined the fraternity “hosted a party while on a cease and desist.” The investigation also turned up another social media post, this one inviting students to what was billed as a “White Trash Wednesday” party held at a venue called “The Brothel.”
Besides being approach by fraternity brothers and sorority sisters, the woman told News4Jax her attacker’s friends sent her a care package with an apology. She also found an explicit message on her mailbox and her car vandalized. She believes all of it was intended to have a chilling effect on the case.
“After I was raped, I had a lot of girls come up to me and say, ‘This happened to me last year but I was too scared to do anything about it,’” she told the I-TEAM previously. “This is exactly why. It’s because you have to deal with the fraternity’s backlash, retaliation, conspiracies they have in the chapter.”
While a student-led conduct board concluded the fraternity was not responsible for any of the allegations, the university’s staff panel overruled the board. The panel found the fraternity and two students were responsible for sexual misconduct, harassment and endangerment, among other allegations.
The panel, which noted a “pattern of dangerous behavior associated with the organization as a whole,” determined that “in order to create a better campus culture, we believe the only option left is to disband the fraternity.”
Mitchell Wilson, executive director for the national Kappa Sigma fraternity, said the group is appealing the university’s decision. He also took umbrage with records related to the case being made public, calling their release “most unfair and unfortunate.”
Attorney Belkis Plata, who has no ties to the case but has worked on sexual assault cases, said it’s understandable that the fraternity would be upset.
“But I think for the community at large, it’s extremely important that these things are made public because people need to be on notice as to what’s happening,” Plata said.