Lawsuits say fraternity fostered culture of ‘misogyny’
(CNN) — Two lawsuits say the national chapter of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity allowed a culture of “violent misogyny” after an internal email from the Georgia Tech chapter leaked last year instructing fraternity members on how to lure “rapebait.”
The lawsuits were filed Thursday in an Atlanta court on behalf of two anonymous women — listed as Jane Doe and June Doe — alleging they were sexually assaulted in separate incidents in 2012 and 2014 at the Georgia Tech chapter fraternity house based on a fraternity playbook for targeting women.
The Phi Kappa Tau national chapter, the now suspended local chapter and the chapter adviser are named as defendants in both lawsuits.
These aren’t lawsuits “against the perpetrator. The student was pursued by the school and expelled. (Phi Kappa Tau) failed to take action and allowed a dangerous environment to fester, allowing the rape of two women,” Cari Simon, the attorney representing the two women, told CNN on Friday.
Simon’s firm said the same fraternity member was involved in both incidents.
No criminal charges have been filed, the fraternity said.
“The complaints highlight an offensive email and disturbing statements made in 2013 by chapter members and attempt to somehow link the alleged sexual assaults in 2012 and 2014 to that conduct,” the fraternity said in a statement.
“The Fraternity is disappointed that the plaintiffs’ attorney chose to exploit the hypersensitivity of today’s college environment towards sexual assault by drafting the complaints in a manner that sensationalizes completely inappropriate statements, while at the same time alleging that a Georgia Tech student committed criminal rapes of two different women.”
Simon, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said, “I totally agree that the language is salacious, but it’s the words of their own members.”
She said the suits were seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The leaked email contained references to using alcohol as a means of sexual persuasion and attracted the attention of online communities and social media sites.
The fraternity member who wrote the email apologized in Georgia Tech’s student newspaper last year.
Identified only as “Matthew,” he said that he was his chapter’s social chair and that the email was a joke and should never have been written in the first place. Matthew write the email, but is not the person accused of sexual assault.
“Misogynistic behavior is everywhere online and unfortunately, my attempt to ridicule it in an immature and outrageous satire backfired terribly and in a manner I mistakenly underestimated,” he wrote in the Technique, the student newspaper.
The school’s chapter was disbanded for three years over accusations of sexual assault in March, Georgia Tech said.
Georgia Tech, which wasn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuits, had no comment on the litigation.