Sigma Pi suspended following rape allegations, arrest of two members

The Sigma Pi fraternity chapter has been suspended following the report of a rape at its campus house on Jan. 16, and after charges were filed against two of its members for impeding the investigation.

During the investigation of the reported rape of an 18-year-old A-State student, university police officers were informed that the victim was given vodka punch before she became unconscious in a bedroom in the house and found that two fraternity members exchanged text messages regarding hiding the punch.

This information led to charges being brought Tuesday against two men who were questioned earlier in the investigation. Both men appeared in court Tuesday for a probable cause hearing and were charged with hindering the investigation. No suspects have been named or charges filed for rape.

Police said 21-year-old Camden English, a student and Sigma Pi fraternity member, and 23-year-old Alex Techmer exchanged text messages about removing the punch, which was in English’s room.

English was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Techmer was issued a Persona Non Grata and is no longer welcome on university property.

Neither individual was accused of or charged with rape. Both men are scheduled to appear in court next month on charges of hindering apprehension and prosecution.

English and Techmer were arrested after police obtained a warrant to seize and search English’s phone and discovered text messages between the student and Techmer, who is not currently a student at A-State but was living in the fraternity’s house.

According to probable cause affidavits provided by UPD, English sent Techmer several text messages asking him to remove the punch from his bedroom before the police arrived to search the residence. Once inside the Sigma Pi fraternity house, police found an empty cooler in English’s bedroom, but no punch was found on the premises.

Since the report was filed in the early hours of Jan. 16, police have released very little additional information. In accordance with Arkansas law, law enforcement agencies cannot disclose information to the public about the identity of the victim of a sex crime, except under limited circumstances.

At A-State in 2013, five assaults were reported on campus, two of which were reported in the dorms. In 2012, two assaults were reported, one of which occurred in a dorm.

This rise in reported incidents on campus mirrors the nationwide increase in reported offenses related to sexual offenses on college campuses, including many which have received national media coverage.

In September of last year, New York Magazine profiled 21-year-old Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz, who made headlines with her performance art piece “Carry That Weight.”

Sulkowicz, who was raped in 2012 by a male student in her dorm room, became the face of what many media outlets deemed the new “sexual revolution.”

To raise awareness of the lack of action Columbia University took in regard to her case, Sulkowicz began carrying her mattress, a replica of the same mattress she was attacked on, everywhere she went.

Stories similar to Sulkowicz’s are all too common for many women on college campuses. Fear of retaliation and victim blaming are common at many schools.

Sulkowicz is not alone in her frustration with the lack of perpetrator convictions on college campuses. In 2013 alone, all colleges and universities, in compliance with the Clery Act, reported over 5,000 forcible sex offenses to the U.S. Department of Education

In a report provided by the U.S. Senate last year, 41 percent of universities had not conducted an investigation of a sexual assault complaint in the last five years and only 10-25 percent of students found responsible for sexual assault were permanently kicked off campus.

For many young women, such as the 18-year-old A-State student who reported her assault, telling police is only the first step of a long road to justice.