Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Inc., and a member of the former Duke chapter of the fraternity are contesting a female Duke student's claim of acquaintance rape, in briefs filed with Durham County Superior Court.
Junior Nora Kantor, who is on leave and studying at The Ohio State University, charges senior James Thompson in a civil suit with civil assault, civil battery, infliction of emotional distress and civil seduction, and charged the national SAE organization with negligence, following an alleged sexual assault after an SAE Christmas party in December 2001. No criminal charges were filed, and Kantor is seeking compensatory damages of at least $10,000.
Kantor said in an e-mail that she had experienced a lot of physical and emotional pain and is pursuing the lawsuit as a way to bring about "closure."
In filing the charge of civil seduction, Kantor's motion claims that Thompson "wrongfully seduced and debauched her... through persuasion, deception, enticement and artifice." Kantor, a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, said that prior to the incident she was "chaste, innocent and virtuous."
The national SAE organization responded in a motion filed by lawyer Dave Lewis that it "does not possess the right to control the day-to-day activities of any chapter and does not exercise control over such activities."
Nevertheless, Lewis contends that Kantor "failed to exercise due care and circumspection for her own safety... in the same manner as a reasonable and prudent person would act in similar circumstances to protect herself from harm."
Kantor's motion notes several reported incidents of acquaintance rape, alcohol violations and other problems at Duke's SAE chapter and other SAE chapters nationally and claims that "it was widely related among female students at Duke that the acronym 'SAE' stood for 'Sexual Assault Expected.'"
She also said that, as a result of the incident, she suffered from extreme psychological distress, left school before finishing her exams and did not do as well as she had hoped in her classes.
In addition, Kantor claims that when she went to visit the Women's Center on the Monday after the incident, it was closed.
Duke's SAE chapter disaffiliated just a month after the alleged incident. In January 2002, leaders of the chapter said that pressure and sanctions from both the University and alumni made it impossible for the group to continue its existence in a form its members were comfortable with. The group lost housing at the end of last academic year and now exist as an off-campus group, Delta Phi Alpha.
The motion filed by Kantor paints a vivid picture of a night out with an SAE.
According to Kantor's motion, several SAE members gathered at the off-campus house on 203 Watts St., where both she and other SAE members took shots of Goldschlager, a cinnamon schnapps liqueur, before dinner. At Pop's, a restaurant in Durham, a group of her friends and Thompson engaged in more drinking before taking a bus to the SAE Christmas formal, which took place in a "big barn in a remote location."
The party, Kantor's motion noted, was "characterized by widespread drunkenness and alcohol abuse," and included a self-serve hard liquor bar, two kegs and no age identification.
Kantor said the group then proceeded to the off-campus house again between 2:30 and 3 a.m., where the alleged incident took place.
Thompson's response varies significantly with Kantor's story. Thompson denied that he was "very intoxicated," as Kantor described him. He also claimed that they engaged in "voluntary, consensual sexual intercourse," and that when she asked to stop, he stopped. Kantor also claims that after the incident, he took her back to her dorm room, while he claims she remained with him that night, sleeping with him in his bed.