UVA picks former frat member as counsel in sex abuse allegations

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WUSA9) -- The fallout continues for University of Virginia after a Rolling Stone article about a freshman being gang-raped by seven men at a fraternity house was published Wednesday.

The University of Virginia wants to appoint an independent counsel to review how they handle sex assault reports. But, Virginia's attorney general says the school's choice of counsel may not be the best. The alleged gang-rape took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. For that independent counsel, the university picked a former federal judge who was member of a chapter of that fraternity.

The chilling article tells the tale of Jackie, a freshman who says she was gang-raped at that frat house during the first few weeks of school in 2012. Author, mother, and U.Va. alumna Liz Securro says it happened to her nearly 30 years ago there.

"It was the same story, in the same house, and the same nameless, faceless people," Securro told WUSA9.

Securro says she was drugged and raped three times one night in 1984 when she was a 17-year-old freshman, and she says the dean's response was appalling.

"I had the big bruised cheekbone and a split lip, I had a couple broken ribs….and he said 'are you sure you didn't just have sex with that boy and you don't want your mom and dad to know you're not a good girl?'" Securro recalled.

More than 20 years later, Securro's attacker came forward. Her book about the ordeal is a best-seller.

In the Rolling Stone article, Jackie says she eventually went to Dean Nicole Eramo, head of U.Va.'s Sexual Misconduct Board. Jackie says Eramo told her she could go to police, handle it within the school or do nothing. We asked the university if this was true. They didn't get back to us.

U.Va. is already part of a Title 9 investigation for potentially inadequately handling sexual violence complaints. They're under a serious compliance review and could lose funding.

U.Va. alumna Lisa Richey graduated in 2003. She says she and many alums were appalled at the allegations in the article, so she launched the UVrApe Alumni Victims Defense Fund to help victims.

"You know that you've failed these students and your alumni knows you failed these students but your alumni aren't going to let us continue to fail these students," Richey said in a message to the University.

University President Teresa Sullivan released a statement, which read in part, "I have asked the Charlottesville Police Department to formally investigate this incident, and the University will cooperate fully with the investigation."

Sullivan hasn't responded to our questions. At one point, the university wouldn't say where she was, citing safety concerns.

"I say to Teresa Sullivan, why are you in an undisclosed location due to security concerns, what are the security concerns for your students?" Securro asked.

The fraternity in question was vandalized overnight and they released a statement saying they've suspended all activities at the university.

Former U.Va. Dean John Foubert told WUSA9's Debra Alfarone that he thinks the university's primary concern is their public reputation.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories