Former student sues ABOR over sexual assault case

A former ASU student who claims she was sexually assaulted by two Sigma Chi fraternity members in 2008 filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents on June 12, arguing ASU was deliberately indifferent in preventing the assault and failed to properly investigate her case afterward.

The former student, Anna Babler, filed a civil action lawsuit in February 2010 against the fraternity’s local and national chapters, as well as two former members, Matt Potter and David Gallagher. The court proceedings are still ongoing.

The federal lawsuit filed June 12, which named ABOR as the sole defendant, claims that ASU exercised substantial control over the Sigma Chi fraternity, which at the time was located on the University’s campus and was responsible for ensuring the safety of the students in the fraternity housing.

The lawsuit claims ASU failed to comply with its obligations under Title IX, which holds the University responsible for protecting students from sexual harassment and to take action when harassment occurs.

“ASU has a separate legal responsibility to Anna and other students,” Babler’s lawyer Patricia Wells said, explaining why another suit was filed after the one in February.

Wells argues that ASU’s conduct in handling Babler’s case was egregious and unconscionable.

The suit includes allegations that ASU had prior knowledge of the risk of sexual assaults but remained indifferent, citing more than five years of evidence prior to Babler’s alleged rape in 2008 against the Sigma Chi fraternity.

Wells said that the suspected mishandling of the investigation by ASU Police made a criminal lawsuit impossible.

ASU Police did not perform a sexual assault examination, even at the request of Babler, Wells said.

However, ASU Police Cmdr. Jim Hardina said in February that officers determined there was not sufficient evidence to continue a criminal investigation.

“This does not mean that something may not have happen[ed], but the elements of a sexual assault were not met,” Hardina said in a February e-mail.

Wells said her client is committed to seeing some policies change on the ASU campus.

ASU Police would not comment on the lawsuit or the investigation, and directed all questions to ASU media relations.

In an e-mail statement, ASU spokeswoman Sharon Keeler said “the safety and security of students, faculty and staff at ASU is the University’s highest priority.” The statement went on to say that “the University encourages students who believe that they have been the victim of a crime to contact the ASU Police Department and make a complaint.”

Keeler would not discuss ASU’s position on the lawsuit as it is against University policy to comment on pending litigation.

For the same reason, an ABOR representative would not comment either.

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