Tag Archives: Jane Doe lawsuit

Settlement in Federal Lawsuit Against Beta and Wesleyan

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Last October, a former student (under the pseudonym of “Jane Doe”) filed a federal lawsuit against Beta Theta Pi fraternity, the Baird Association (which owns Beta’s house), and Wesleyan University. The lawsuit alleged that  Wesleyan had failed to abide by Title IX law through failure to “warn or otherwise take corrective action” against the fraternity that could have prevented the assault on the student that occurred in Beta two years prior.

The case accumulated significant attention in national media (as well as, uh, me), especially when it came to light that lawyers for Beta were attempting to force the survivor to reveal her identity

Beta Lawyers Argue Sexual Assault Survivor Should Not Be Granted Anonymity in Federal Lawsuit

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This past October, a former Wesleyan student filed a lawsuit against the University. The student, who has used the pseudonym Jane Doe in court proceedings to maintain her anonymity, says that she was raped in a locked room during the fraternity’s 2010 Halloween party by John O’Neill, 21, of Yorktown, NY. O’Neill was a guest of the fraternity and not a Wesleyan student. He was charged with first-degree sexual assault, pleaded no contest to lesser charges of third-degree assault and first-degree unlawful restraint a little over a year ago, and is now serving a 15-month prison sentence, from which he will be released next month.

According to The Hartford Courant, “The woman’s lawsuit, filed last October, charges Wesleyan with violating Title IX, the federal gender-equity law, by failing “to supervise, discipline, warn or take other corrective action” against the fraternity, actions that it says could have prevented the assault.” Wesleyan warned students in an email in March 2010 to avoid Beta due to safety concerns. Jane Doe says that, as she was not aware of that warning, she went to the frat’s Halloween party, where she was raped.

Fast-forward to the present. Lawyers for the Wesleyan chapter of Beta Theta Pi (which is also a defendant in the case) filed papers this week arguing that Jane Doe should not be able to use the pseudonym in the federal lawsuit. The Hartford Courant summarizes their motion as follows:

Lawyers for the Mu Epsilon chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Wesleyan said the woman should not be allowed to proceed with her lawsuit under the pseudonym “Jane Doe” because “it allows her to make defamatory statements against” the fraternity and Wesleyan “behind a cloak of anonymity,” according to a motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.