Panel finds frat cited for UCF rape-chant video broke no rules

As UCF discipline panel ruled Thursday that Sigma Nu did not violate university policy after a video surfaced of a fraternity brother chanting “rape” and saying, “Let’s rape some sluts.”

The man, who is no longer a student at the University of Central Florida, is the same person accused of sexually assaulting another UCF student twice in October.

The man was “inebriated and venting” when he was recorded in June making the rape comments at 2 a.m. after returning from a bar, according to a UCF document that explained the rationale behind the panel’s verdict.

“It is evident that fraternity members did attempt to calm down [the man],” according to the panel’s findings. “We found insufficient information to suggest that Sigma Nu as a fraternity is responsible for the remarks made by this individual.”

UCF spokesman Chad Binette said the panel’s recommendation is not final until it is approved by the university staff, which could happen next week. The fraternity remains suspended until the final decision, he said.

“The appalling behavior seen in this video is not how responsible men act. While offensive speech may be allowable, it is inappropriate in every sense,” Binette said. “That’s why we’re working with the national fraternity office to help change the culture that led to this behavior.”

In a statement, the national fraternity called Thursday’s ruling “the right decision.”

“The reprehensible comments on the recordings were made by an individual and are the responsibility of that individual,” the statement said.

In the separate sexual-assault case, a UCF spokeswoman clarified Thursday that the woman reported she was sexually assaulted twice: on the evening of Oct. 2 at the off-campus Sigma Nu house and then early the next morning at the woman’s on-campus dorm.

Initial reports suggested the woman had been assaulted only at the fraternity.

The man first enrolled in summer 2010 through this summer but did not earn a degree, spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin said. The Orlando Sentinel is not naming him because criminal charges have not been filed, although UCF said the case was sent to the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office in April.

Gilmartin added that other details would not be released because of student-confidentiality laws.

The video that was the subject of the ruling Thursday was recorded in June by a woman who had been dating one of the Sigma Nu members. She gave the video to the sexual-assault victim, who then filed a complaint July 9.

Both women identified the man’s voice in the video, the complaint said.

The rape-chant-video complaint also sparked a separate Title IX investigation to determine whether there was sexual discrimination at the public school, according to a letter by UCF student-conduct office Director Michael Gilmer.
Thursday’s hearing, closed to the public, was like a court trial, according to UCF documents that explained the process.

Sigma Nu brothers could give opening statements to tell their side of the story. Witnesses could testify and be questioned and documents presented as evidence in front of the panel, which Binette said was made up of two students and two UCF employees.

The UCF fraternity chapter started in 2005 and has 52 active members.

At UCF, many fraternities and sororities point out they spend hours doing community service and are leaders on campus. For instance in June, members of the school’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity chapter held a vigil on campus to honor victims of the Charleston, S.C., church shooting.

But at times, several UCF student groups have been in trouble through the years for alcohol abuse, hazing and sexual assaults, issues that Greek organizations at other schools also face.