Privacy policy, student request prevented University from investigating reported rape

(2.26) Sigma Chi
SIGMA CHI: The investigation into an alleged rape at the Sigma Chi fraternity in 2008 is on going. Because of Arizona private policy laws in cases involving sexual assault, the student bringing charges against another can not have their identity revealed. (Photo by Nikolai de Vera)
Published On:
Friday, February 26, 2010
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ASU’s privacy policy kept a former student who claims she was sexually assaulted by members of the Sigma Chi fraternity in 2008 from filing a formal complaint against her alleged attackers, preventing a University investigation, according to a 2009 report.

The University released a statement Thursday about its privacy policy in cases where sexual assault is investigated, saying it can’t legally reveal the identity of a student bringing charges against another student, but also cannot guarantee anonymity.

Arizona privacy laws and the University’s student code of conduct limit the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, which handles judicial proceedings, from revealing students’ identities in these cases, ASU spokeswoman Sharon Keeler said.

ASU policy is to present the person or persons accused of the assault with the facts of the allegation, which may give away the identity of the victim, she said.

The woman told members of a nonprofit organization focused on investigative journalism that she tried to lodge a complaint against her attackers through the University’s judicial affairs office.

In the members’ report about sexual assault on college campuses, the student said she decided against filing the complaint because University officials could not guarantee her anonymity.

It was previously unclear why the University couldn’t guarantee the alleged victim’s anonymity.

“For a student who is charged of a student code of conduct violation to respond and defend him or herself, he or she needs the facts of the allegation,” Keeler said in an e-mail. “A victim’s identity may well be evident to the student against whom code of conduct charges have been made through the presentation of the factual allegations.”

The woman, who alleges she was assaulted at a fraternity party, pursued the charges through the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities when ASU Police decided not to continue a criminal investigation against the men, citing a lack of evidence.

The former student is now seeking a civil suit against the local and national chapters of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

Reach the reporters at kpatton4@asu.edu and derek.quizon@asu.edu