Almost a year after “Jane Doe” filed a lawsuit against the University, the Beta Theta Pi fraternity (Beta), and its Mu Epsilon chapter, the fraternity’s lawyers submitted a brief this summer asking the court to make Jane Doe’s identity public.
John O’Neill was charged with first-degree sexual assault and is serving a 15-month prison sentence in Somers, Connecticut.
In an email from the fraternity’s lawyers presented in the memorandum, attorney Jeremy Platek stated that Jane Doe’s claims have damaged the fraternity’s reputation.
“The fraternity defendants, along with plaintiff, are entitled to be treated fairly,” Platek wrote. “Here, the fraternity defendants have been accused by plaintiff, you, and your local counsel, of scandalous behavior that has caused harm to their reputation. You have chosen to do so not only in the pleadings but to trumpet these allegations to the media.… Basic fairness requires plaintiff to stand behind those allegations, publicly.”
Platek stated that he believes anonymity has allowed Jane Doe to make untrue claims about the fraternity.
“Plaintiff suffers no further harm should her claims go unproven in this matter,” Platek wrote. “The same cannot be said for the fraternity defendants when plaintiff’s outrageous claims fail.”
A memorandum issued on July 2 by Timothy O’Keefe, Jane Doe’s lawyer, stated that revealing her identity to the public is not necessary in the resolution of the case.
“Jane’s anonymity in no way interferes with the Fraternity Defendants’ ability to defend this case: Jane’s counsel proposed entry of a confidentiality order that would permit all parties to disclose her identity to their directors, officers, employees, members, or recent alumni, provided such person has a legitimate reason to know Jane’s identity to assist in the defense of the case, keeps her identity confidential, and agrees to be bound by the Court’s order,” the memorandum read.
The memorandum further stated that Jane Doe’s anonymity is essential to protect her from further harassment. According to the statement, in the past, rape survivors have been intimidated on Wesleyan’s campus after experiences of assault.
“Protecting Jane and other rape survivors from intimidation is imperative,” the memorandum said. “Members of the Fraternity Defendants already intimidated Jane while she was on campus, and their peers did the same to another young woman (‘Mary’) who survived being raped by a Wesleyan athlete in the very same chapter house of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity (‘Beta House’).”
The document detailed Jane Doe’s interactions with students and members of the fraternity after they became aware of her identity.
“She claims being menaced by Beta members after her report became public, when, among other things, crowds of students gathered at different locations on campus and chanted ‘Free Beta’ purportedly to pressure Wesleyan to revoke the sanctions it imposed on the Fraternity as a result of the rape(s),” the memorandum read.
Mary, the other victim referenced in the document, had a similar experience on campus in the summer of 2006. Mary informed two University deans of the attack; according to the memorandum, the University failed to report the incident in its 2006 Uniform Campus Crime Report. The University reportedly took little disciplinary action against the alleged rapist.
“The man who raped Mary remained an intimidating and, as a conference winning athlete, even celebrated, presence on campus,” the memorandum read. “After her identity was disclosed, the fear and intimidation was exacerbated by encountering his friends and teammates. At one point, Mary learned of plans the rapist had to throw a party at the Beta House. She notified Wesleyan, and it intervened to prevent the party. The party was then purposely moved to the apartment directly next door to Mary’s.”
Jane Doe’s lawyers stated that her anonymity is protected under Connecticut state law. They said that the case should fall under state jurisdiction, as all of Jane Doe’s claims against the fraternity relate to state law rather than federal law.
“Jane overcame humiliation, pain and other suffering in order to see the man who raped her prosecuted, and, then to file suit against those who failed to protect her and others from rape at the Beta House,” the memorandum read. “The law of this State, Federal Circuit, and other jurisdictions protects Jane from further humiliation as a consequence of filing suit.”
According to O’Keefe, the court has not yet ruled on whether Jane Doe’s name will be publicly released.