The Hartford Courant reports that the Wesleyan-based Mu Epsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi filed a motion Tuesday in U.S. District Court, arguing that the plaintiff’s use of a pseudonym “allows her to make defamatory statements against” both Wesleyan and the fraternity “behind a cloak of anonymity”:
The motion seeks to vacate a judge’s previous order permitting the woman to remain anonymous. It charges that the woman failed to meet “the standard governing the use of pseudonyms in civil litigation” in the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. That court — in deciding Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant in 2008 — recently outlined standards for a trial court to consider when asked to allow a case to proceed with the plaintiff’s name sealed.
In her argument to continue using a pseudonym, the woman said she needed “to preserve the privacy and emotional and physical well-being of this survivor of sexual assault and rape in a sensitive and highly personal matter.”
The lawsuit, filed last October, alleges the school violated Title IX by “to supervise, discipline, warn or take other corrective action” against the fraternity, which lost official recognition in 2005 but maintained an off-campus presence and reportedly gained a reputation at Wesleyan as a “Rape Factory.” According to “Jane Doe,” she was raped at the fraternity’s off-campus house at a 2010 party, which led to a university-wide email warning students about safety risks at the house. When the woman’s name surfaced, she became the subject of protests against the university’s recommendation that students avoid the fraternity.
Doe’s case underscores the difficulties faced by the victims of sexual assault when they come forward with their stories — and the importance of allowing them to remain anonymous if they wish. Just last week, reports surfaced that a 14-year-old Elwood, Indiana girl was facing harassment in her neighborhood for being pregnant, even though the pregnancy was the result of a sexual assault. Last fall, a 15-year-old California girl committed suicide after being raped and humiliated by three fellow students. She later sent, in a Facebook message before her death, “I have a reputation for a night I don’t even remember and the whole school knows.”
The case is also just the latest example of students struggling to expose rape culture on college campuses. In April, protesters against sexual assault policies at Dartmouth University received rape and death threats. The next month, the school sent disciplinary letters to many of the students who protested.
Joseph Diebold is an intern at ThinkProgress.