A member of a Georgia Tech fraternity sexually assaulted two women using the playbook described in a "luring your rapebait" email, two lawsuits filed this week against Phi Kappa Tau claim.
The Phi Kappa Tau fraternity's response to the lawsuits insists the attorneys for the reported rape victims are exploiting the "hypersensitivity of today's college environment toward sexual assault."
The Alpha Rho chapter of PKT turned a blind eye to red flags that brothers were encouraging each other to sexually assault women, the suits allege, including the "rapebait" email, songs joking about sexual violence, and chapter meeting minutes declaring "rape is good." The two suits contain nearly identical allegations but each is filed on behalf of a different plaintiff.
The chapter was suspended by the university for three years in April 2014 after a member circulated instructions in an email for "luring rapebait." Using crude language, the email encouraged members to provide large amounts of alcohol to women in an attempt to hook up with them.
The lawsuits, filed in Fulton County State Court in Georgia this week by B.J. Bernstein and Douglas Fierberg of Washington's Bode & Fierberg, LLP, say the "rapebait" email was one of many instances of misogyny in the Alpha Rho house.
The suits claim an unnamed PKT member in January raped a woman, Jane Doe, more or less following the description laid out in the "rapebait" email -- he and other fraternity members "plied" her with a large amount of alcohol until she blacked out. The same PKT brother followed the same protocol when he sexually assaulted another young woman, June Doe, who was physically incapacitated from alcohol in November 2012 at a fraternity-sponsored event, according to the suits.
Three days after the assault is said to have occurred, Jane Doe reported it to university police, who photographed bruises and marks that remained visible on her neck, breast, thigh and back.
Other evidence of misogyny in the PKT frat presented in the lawsuit include the lyrics of a song members would sing:
Who can take a bicycle
Tear off the seat
Impale a virgin on it, and push her down a bumpy street.
The S&M man.
Who can take a tight slut
F*** her ‘till she cries
Then pull it out real fast and skeet into her eyes
The following lyrics were distributed to fraternity members through a listserv, to be sung at the house's 2012 Christmas party, according to the lawsuits:
We put her in a wooden box
She died from sucking Phi Tau cocks!
We dig her out every now and then.
She f***ed us once, she’ll f*** us again
"That was the lyrics to a song to be sung at the fraternity's Christmas party, sent in an email to the frat a couple days after one of our clients were raped," Cari Simon, one of the attorneys working on the case, told The Huffington Post on Friday.
According to the lawsuits, the Alpha Rho chapter maintained a "conquest board" of women the members slept with, and passed it on from class to class.
In a statement from PKT Communication Director Tyler Wash, the fraternity noted it shut down the chapter when it found out the Alpha Rho house had violated organizational policies and that "a possible sexual assault had occurred." But Wash also seemed to question whether either woman was raped, and said the attorneys were inappropriately linking the "rapebait" email with sexual violence.
"The Fraternity is disappointed that the plaintiffs' attorneys chose to exploit the hypersensitivity of today's college environment toward 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," Wash said.
The national office for PKT did not respond to multiple follow-up requests about their statement.
In addition to the Phi Kappa Tau organization, the suit names fraternity chapter adviser Robert Tobey and the Alpha Rho house as defendants. The university is not named as a defendant.
Tobey, the suit claims, was in charge of supervising the chapter on risk management and was present at meetings where members made statements like "rape is good." He did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did other officials and members of the Georgia Tech chapter.
This story has been updated to include comments from Cari Simon.
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