Lawsuits, alcohol bans and violations: Title IX and sexual assault issues recap

UCLA has remained silent regarding several Title IX or sexual assault-related incidents this year due to legal policies or privacy concerns.

Here is an overview of the incidents that occurred and what is known regarding UCLA’s response.

 

Lawsuit against UCLA Fraternities

 

Then:

A UCLA student filed a sexual assault lawsuit against Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Zeta Beta Tau, the Interfraternity Council and former ZBT member Blake Lobato, in the Los Angeles Superior Court on Aug. 10, 2018.

The lawsuit included charges of negligence, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

According to court documents, Lobato sexually assaulted the student after inviting her to spend the night at ZBT following a party at SAE. The incident was reported to the UCLA Title IX office, prompting a nine-month investigation.

The investigation conducted by the UCLA Title IX office found Lobato had statutorily raped another female student in fall 2015, according to court documents.

Lobato was removed from ZBT in January 2017 and expelled from UCLA in November of the same year after he allegedly made threats against the student’s life.

Now:

The litigation is ongoing. Keith Fink, the attorney representing the student filing the suit, said the IFC is the only party to have not appeared in court. He added the IFC claims they did not receive proper notice from the plaintiff to appear in court.

IFC President Josh Kaplan did not respond to requests for comment.

The court will take a default judgement against the IFC because they did not appear in court, Fink said. A default judgment is a ruling against a party failing to appear in court, and is the equivalent of judgement following trial. If a default judgement is issued, Fink said he will win his case against the IFC because they did not appear in court, but he will have to provide evidence for the ruling.

Neither ZBT nor SAE responded to requests for comment. The fraternities previously said they have a policy that does not permit them to comment on pending or threatened litigation.

Fink said he feels UCLA does not adequately encourage members of Greek life to take Title IX trainings seriously. He added he believes UCLA should have informed the student body about the alleged assault sooner and encouraged students to be vigilant at fraternity events.

“In my opinion UCLA could have done a lot of things much better to protect Jane Doe and the other woman who encountered (Lobato), as well as other women on campus,” Fink said.

The UCLA Title IX office, Campus Assault Resources & Education, and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life hosted eight sexual violence prevention workshops for students in Greek life during fall quarter.

Lindsey Goldstein, acting director of fraternity and sorority life at UCLA, previously said all students involved in Greek life are required to attend one workshop per year, and chapters are only permitted to host social events if 100% of their members attend the workshop.

UCLA spokesperson Katherine Alvarado said UCLA does not comment on pending litigation.

 

Alcohol ban

 

Then:

A national interfraternity organization which oversees several UCLA fraternities implemented a ban on some alcoholic drinks from in-house events.

The North-American Interfraternity Conference, a national trade association for 66 fraternities, decided on Aug. 27, 2018, that member fraternities, including some at UCLA, will have until Sept. 1, 2019, to implement a ban on drinks with alcohol content over 15% from in-house events unless licensed by a third-party vendor.

The NIC enacted the ban following alcohol-related deaths at two of its member fraternities, including Beta Theta Pi at Pennsylvania State University.

The NIC did not respond to requests for comment.

UCLA fraternities were banned indefinitely from hosting in-house events with alcohol in January 2018, over six months before the NIC announcement, following a vote by the IFC’s executive board and fraternity presidents.

The ban was enacted after the 2016-2017 president of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity was arrested and charged with assault and attempt to commit rape and oral copulation.

However, the IFC lifted the alcohol ban the following month after voting to pass a new risk-management policy, which required fraternities to have third-party security guards and bartenders at all registered events.

Former IFC President Noah Mayer previously said the council would enforce the policy through post-party reports submitted by security guards. He added fraternities failing to adhere to the policy would face IFC’s judicial process.

Now:

The IFC also voted to ban all drinks with alcohol content over 15% by volume at in-house fraternity events in October. This ban is still in effect.

UCLA did not respond to requests for comment regarding the university’s enforcement of either alcohol ban, but previously said it does not have the jurisdiction to enforce the fraternity ban.

UCPD Lt. Kevin Kilgore said UCPD is not involved in enforcing the IFC alcohol ban.

IFC President Josh Kaplan, External Vice President Preston Strother and Vice President of Media and Outreach Kenny Yamaguchi did not respond to requests for comment.

Lack of oversight

 

Thomas Fairleigh Denove, professor emeritus in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, received an eight-year sentence in May for two charges of sexual assault of children under 14 years old.

Denove was sentenced to six years for one count of long-term sexual abuse of a child under 14 and two additional years for performing lewd acts on a child under 14. He plead no contest to the charges in November, but did not officially retire from UCLA until December.

UCLA has not sent out a campuswide message regarding his removal.

The UCLA Lab School is located on campus roughly 2,000 feet from TFT offices in Macgowan Hall. The Lab School enrolls roughly 450 children under age 12.

UCLA spokesperson Tod Tamberg said all visitors to the Lab School must have an appointment with a teacher, administrator or staff member. He added there are no reports or evidence that Denove visited the UCLA Lab School or had contact with its students.

Tamberg declined to comment further on behalf of the Lab School.

Jerry Kang, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, said previously in an email statement UCLA is considering requiring background checks on faculty hires.

 

Title IX violations

 

The UCLA Title IX office released 31 cases of UCLA employees who violated the University of California Policy for Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment in October.

The documents, which describe incidents of unwanted sexual comments and advances over the last two years, were released following a California Public Records Act request. The documents were heavily redacted.

UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said UCLA is committed to maintaining an environment free of harassment and discrimination.

He added he could not provide information regarding UCLA’s plan to communicate updates about the cases to the public or whether redacted names will be released if the respondents’ employments are terminated, because Title IX investigations are confidential.

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2019/06/09/lawsuits-alcohol-bans-and-violations-title-ix-and-sexual-assault-issues-recap/
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