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Boulder’s Sigma Pi fraternity shut down amid possible drugging allegations

Boulder's Sigma Pi fraternity shut down amid possible drugging allegations

The nationwide workplace of the Sigma Pi fraternity has ordered its Boulder chapter to stop operations after 5 College of Colorado college students informed police they consider they have been drugged whereas attending events on the school city’s College Hill final month.

Boulder police are investigating an alleged assault that was reported on the Sigma Pi home, 1111 School Ave., on the identical night time the primary two drugging victims have been hospitalized. No arrests have been made in reference to the druggings, and when requested about that investigation Thursday, Boulder police spokeswoman Shannon Aulabaugh stated, “Sigma Pi is not considered a suspect at this time.”

As a result of all the ladies had attended a number of events, police stated they couldn’t affirm the place the scholars believed they have been drugged.

However Jonathan Frost, government director of the Tennessee-based Sigma Pi Fraternity and Basis, stated in an e-mail Thursday that he was “aware of the reports and allegations” surrounding the Boulder chapter. He stated the nationwide workplace shut down the fraternity and launched an inner investigation, and is “fully cooperating” with CU officers.

“Sigma Pi has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use and a zero-tolerance policy for any type of assault,” Frost wrote in an e mail to The Denver Submit on Thursday following a number of requests for touch upon the ladies’s allegations that they have been drugged on the Hill. “Whenever any policy or law is broken by any member of Sigma Pi, we hold them responsible and respond accordingly, up to and including expulsion.”

Ryan Huff, a spokesman for CU Boulder, stated college officers hadn’t heard that the off-campus fraternity had been shut down.

“However, Sigma Pi national leaders have been in touch with Student Affairs officials and we’ve talked about recent alleged conduct and incidents,” Huff stated.

“The ongoing investigation”

5 ladies got here ahead to the Boulder Police Division final month saying they believed they have been drugged whereas partying on the Hill, the quintessentially collegiate enterprise and residential district common with college students that’s simply throughout the road from the Boulder campus.

Since then, college students have held a protest on campus as they clamor for solutions about what occurred to their classmates. Specialists warn, although, that alcohol- and drug-related crimes — which may boil down to at least one individual’s phrase towards one other’s — might be troublesome to show when proof is tough to return by and reminiscences are hazy.

On Oct. 18, Boulder police introduced that two CU college students had been hospitalized early that morning at Boulder Group Well being after “unknowingly ingesting drugs while drinking alcoholic beverages at parties on University Hill.” 5 days later, Aulabaugh stated three extra CU college students got here ahead with comparable allegations.

The Denver Submit final week requested data from the Boulder Police Division for any calls to the Sigma Pi fraternity home over the previous yr, however that request initially was denied “due to the possible connection to the ongoing investigation,” in accordance with an e-mail from James Dann, administrative specialist with the division. After asking whether or not Boulder police might affirm the Sigma Pi fraternity was beneath investigation, Aulabaugh final week stated data associated to that home could possibly be launched — however that Sigma Pi was not a suspect in any druggings at the moment.

But Boulder police finally declined to launch data involving an Oct. 18 response by officers to the Sigma Pi home on the Hill on a report of an alleged assault, saying the discharge of that info can be opposite to the general public curiosity and “the integrity of an investigation and/or subsequent prosecution could be jeopardized.”

CU and fraternities sever ties

Fraternities at CU Boulder turned unbiased of college oversight in 2004 after the alcohol-poisoning demise of Chi Psi pledge Lynn “Gordie” Bailey Jr. After Bailey’s dying, CU officers requested the fraternities to signal an settlement to delay rush till the spring annually, and guarantee every chapter had a live-in supervisor. The fraternities declined, as an alternative forming an unbiased, off-campus Interfraternity Council made up of 22 organizations.

However Sigma Pi was expelled from Boulder’s Interfraternity Council in 2013 after its members have been accused of offering alcohol to potential recruits through the fall rush. The chapter’s mother or father group didn’t revoke its constitution at the moment, which means it had operated since then with none native oversight.

Final week, Mitchell Denny, a CU Boulder senior and president of the Boulder chapter of Sigma Pi, advised The Denver Submit that it was his job as president to “oversee the fraternity and the relations outside of the fraternity.”

When requested concerning the drugging allegations, Denny stated he had reached out to the CU Police Division and was doing the whole lot he might to cope with the state of affairs.

“We are just trying to reach out to anyone that is willing to talk about any incidents or any reports or anything,” Denny stated final week. “There was a number of rumors going round, and we’re actively making an attempt to look and sift by way of these rumors. I don’t actually really feel snug divulging an entire lot. I don’t have as a lot info as I’d wish to, and neither do the police or the varsity.

“I’ve reached out to the girls to see their side of the story. They have not responded to me. A couple of them have, but they just are very quiet and just haven’t responded.”

When reached once more Thursday, Denny referred The Denver Submit to Frost, who leads the fraternity’s nationwide group.

Challenges in prosecution

Stan Garnett, who stepped down as Boulder County district lawyer earlier this yr, stated he wasn’t stunned when he heard college students had reported to police that they believed that they had been drugged whereas partying.

“It became clear during my time as DA that there were a lot of areas near the university that were centers for problems,” Garnett stated. “One of them was fraternities and one was just general house parties.”

Garnett stated he charged people with utilizing medicine or alcohol to trigger individuals to turn out to be incapacitated, however the DA’s workplace might by no means show that a whole location was accountable.

“We never got an indictment for any case involving allegations that a particular party or particular house was a place where people were likely to be drugged,” Garnett stated. “We never found a case where we felt we could prove sufficient evidence to meet the standards in a court of law where a particular location or fraternity house was engaging in a pattern of drugging people to have sex.”

Nonetheless, Garnett knew there have been Boulder haunts that frightened some college students greater than others. “You hear lots of rumors about places where, particularly young women, become unconscious very quickly,” he stated.

However the presence of alcohol makes investigating these allegations troublesome, Garnett stated.

Janine D’Anniballe, director of Boulder group Shifting to Finish Sexual Assault, defined what typically occurs in instances the place somebody believes they have been drugged whereas consuming.

“If someone feels like they’re drugged, and let’s say they are, and they’re woozy or out of it or incapacitated, by the time they wake up and figure out what might have happened and figure out what to do and where to go, the window has usually passed about testing this substance,” D’Anniballe stated. “It’s so hard to test for because that window is so small.”

Indicators that somebody has been drugged whereas consuming embrace turning into incapacitated at a velocity and depth that doesn’t match with the variety of drinks somebody has had, having an “extreme” hangover that doesn’t appear becoming to the quantity of alcohol consumed, and dropping a way of time and place.

“Again, someone can black out from a lot of alcohol, but that’s not typical if someone had two or three drinks,” D’Anniballe stated. “If somebody had two beers and can’t remember the night before or wakes up with a hangover to beat all hangovers, that’s a sign that something else probably went down. I think taking action and doing it quickly is really the best somebody can do in that situation.”

“No one to keep them in check”

Alexandra Rice, a 20-year-old chief with the Boulder chapter of Christian sorority Alpha Delta Chi, is taking motion on behalf of herself and her sisters. When requested how she felt going out following the alleged druggings, she stated a few of Boulder’s fraternities made her and her sorority sisters uneasy.

“We’ve had a lot of meetings recently where we’ve told our members to stay away from Sigma Pi because they’re unaffiliated,” Rice stated. “Going to these fraternities is a lot more dangerous because there’s no one to keep them in check.”

In 2015, the IFC-affiliated fraternities even warned members of Boulder’s sororities to keep away from Sigma Pi and one other unaffiliated fraternity, Kappa Sigma, as a result of the 2 had been expelled for violations that “involved concerns for the safety and welfare” of members and visitors.

Garnett acknowledged that a lot of the fraternities he and his group handled have been “terrific and made up with young men who are responsible.”

He went on so as to add: “From a law enforcement perspective, you combine late adolescence with alcohol, and you’re going to have some fights, some DUIs and some allegations of sexual misconduct, and we had an obligation to look closely into this. The trick is to figure out how you do appropriate investigations without wasting everybody’s time and running the risk of falsely accusing someone.”

Marc Stine, who oversees the 22 fraternities within the Interfraternity Council, stated Boulder’s fraternities have accomplished a superb job of appearing responsibly. He stated when college students inside the IFC’s fraternities try to type out critical conflicts on their student-run judicial board, they typically provide you with extra stringent sanctions for one another than Stine would recommend as a result of they need to uphold their fraternities’ beliefs and status. Stine additionally praised native regulation enforcement for stepping in when the allegations warranted.

Garnett stated he wouldn’t file costs in a sexual assault case until he knew he had the proof to show the case. He admitted that this meant that victims with hard-to-prove instances don’t all the time get the justice they deserve.

“There’s no question in the American justice system, because our standards of proof are so high, that sometimes crimes happen and you can’t prove them, and the person who commits the crime goes unpunished,” Garnett stated.

“I was drugged on the Hill”

Olivia Lyda stated she skilled her personal model of hindered justice.

Lyda, a CU Boulder sophomore catching up on homework on campus, stated some fraternity events have left her feeling uncomfortable.

“Some aren’t a good scene,” Lyda stated. “The guys have been gross, treating women like objects and just wanting to get laid and then tell their brothers about it. Some aren’t like that, though, but it does make it a lot less fun to go out.”

After praising the college for sending college students emails letting them know when crimes occur and detailing recommendations on the way to keep protected when going out, Lyda stated in passing: “I mean, I get it because I was drugged on the Hill at a frat party. It was fine, though. My friends were there and took care of me, so I was actually really lucky.”

Lyda stated she didn’t report her allegations as a result of she didn’t need to falsely accuse anybody.

“This kind of thing happens more than people think, and then you wake up and are like, ‘What do I do?’” Lyda stated.

D’Anniballe encourages anybody who thinks they’ve been drugged or sexually assaulted to name the Shifting to Finish Sexual Assault 24-hour hotline at 303-443-7300 or name the police or present up at an emergency room.

“Women are entitled to go out and party with their friends and drink what they want, when they want, just as much as men,” D’Anniballe stated. “The fact that we would ask women to curtail their behavior in a certain way to avoid these things is maddening.”