The Judicial Inquiry Office is investigating a sexual harassment complaint that charges Acacia fraternity brothers with stealing and then circulating a nude photograph of a brother's girlfriend to other members of the house. The complainant -- a female student who agreed to discuss her case only if granted anonymity -- said the photo was originally stolen from her boyfriend's off-campus apartment in December, and was xeroxed and shown to Acacia brothers until at least April, when she discovered the incidents and filed the complaint. Interim Judicial Inquiry Officer Jane Combrinck-Graham said last night that a complaint was registered against the fraternity and individual members for sexual harassment. Combrinck-Graham -- who picked up the investigation after former JIO Constance Goodman resigned this summer -- said the chapter has not been notified of any charges because her investigation is continuing. Acacia President Brian Baxt declined to comment until he is officially informed of charges. According to the University's judicial charter, if the fraternity is found to be collectively responsible for the incidents, the house could be kicked off campus. The complainant said that after she and her boyfriend -- a former Acacia brother who has been granted early alumni status -- left for winter break last year, her boyfriend's roommate invited seven members of Acacia to their apartment. "They went into my boyfriend's bedroom and searched without his consent," the student said. "They found a box that was hidden under a big pile of clothes. One member opened the box, looked through it, and found a nude picture." The complainant said the Polaroid photograph was taken with her consent, but "was obviously not open for public viewing." She added that the photo was then shown to all of the brothers in the apartment and replaced in the box. Within 24 hours, one brother who was in the apartment told another about the photograph and "the two of them together decided to go back to the apartment with the intent of stealing the picture, xeroxing it and putting it up within the fraternity house," she said. It is unclear how many photocopies were made, but they were never put up in the fraternity house, according to the complainant. One of the brothers showed a photocopy of the photo to a member of the fall pledge class, she added. Acacia has two pledge classes each year -- one intiated during the fall and spring semester. "The pledge assumed that since he had been been shown the photo, many of the members knew of it," she said. It was later learned that many of the brothers did not see the picture, but were aware of its existence, she said. "They definitely knew about it -- and knew the specifics," she added. The complainant also said at least two of the brothers told people outside of the fraternity of the photograph. As part of a pledging event, one or several members of the spring pledge class were instructed in early April to perform a skit in front of her boyfriend and other brothers in which the pledge was to assume the position that the complainant had taken in the photo, she said. "The pledge then said, 'Look familiar?' " the complainant added that she learned later. The complainant also said she was told that several of the brothers found the skit amusing and that several of the brothers seemed to know the background of the skit. She added that no attempt was made to stop the skit. "I approached fraternity chapter officers with my concerns and was told that it would be discussed at a chapter meeting," the complainant said. "At this point, I found out about the xeroxes when a fall pledge, who had been shown the xeroxes, came forward and let my boyfriend and I know." After hearing precisely what happened from several members, the complainant said she decided to go to the JIO. "I feel that my privacy had been violated, and my trust," she said. "Several of the people who committed these acts were the first people I met at this University. I just didn't think this was appropriate behavior that I could just forgive without formal action." The complainant said she then made a personal statement to the fraternity "telling them that I was hurt by some of the members' actions, but that I would hope that they would understand and respect me for my action in dealing with what happened." Immediately following the statement, she left the room, and a brother brought up a motion to ban her from the house, she said. The motion was tabled, but it passed when the fraternity members learned she had gone to the JIO, she said. "This hurt me and continues to hurt," she said. "It's not that I would want to keep going to their house or their parties. It [hurts because] they were essentially placing the blame on me. In taking this vote, it was essentially saying that the complainant was wrong." No apology has ever been made by the chapter, the student added. "A few of the brothers actually expressed the opinion that because I let the photo be taken I should accept the consequences." "I personally feel whether or not people agree with the moral issues behind a nude photo, no one deserves to have something they kept private and sacred to be divulged to the general public," she said. "It is like if someone was to read your diary." The student's boyfriend said in an interview last night that he had suspected a break-in in his room, but when he questioned people he found a "circle of denials." He added that "the alumni do not condone the actions of the chapter and I feel that they support my girlfriend and I." Acting JIO Combrinck-Graham said that since the investigation is not complete, she has not filed charges which would subsequently be sent to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. It is not clear when she will finish her investigation. OFSA Director Tricia Phaup could not be reached for comment over the weekend.Comments powered by Disqus
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