Utah State Settles with Rape Victim for $250K
The agreement also calls for Utah State to increase its oversight of Greek organizations, improve training and hire a fraternity and sorority coordinator.
Utah State University (USU) has agreed to pay $250,000 to a former student who was raped at the school’s Sigma Chi fraternity house in July 2015.
The lawsuit alleged that five women reported to the university that Sigma Chi member Jason Relopez had sexually assaulted them before he attacked Victoria Hewlett, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Despite this, the lawsuit claims the school did very little to address the problem.
Utah State officials said they did not receive reports of the previous assaults but that Relopez had been on their radar before the Hewlett rape. He remained on campus until he was arrested for the Hewlett attack. USU then suspended him. Relopez pleaded guilty to attempted rape and forcible sexual abuse. He admitted he had sexually assaulted two women in two years.
As part of the settlement agreement, the school’s president and Hewlett co-authored an opinion article that ran in the Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday.
“Today, we — a rape survivor and former student, along with a university president — come together out of a resolve to transform crisis into an opportunity to positively change the Utah State University campus community,” the article said.
Utah State has also agreed to improve its oversight of the Greek system. Those changes include requiring all Greek organizations to apply for recognition as official student organizations and the addition of a full-time coordinator of fraternity and sorority life. The new coordinator will be tasked with ensuring compliance with USU ’s policies and the law, providing training for Greek organizations and alcohol policy compliance.
Additionally, the school will provide annual trauma-informed training to campus employees who might receive sexual assault reports.
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