Suits alleging sexual assault filed against Tech “rapebait” fraternity

Two women on Thursday filed lawsuits against a Georgia Tech fraternity, made infamous after an email surfaced instructing members how to “lure rapebait” by plying women with alcohol.

The women both allege they were raped by the same member of Phi Kappa Tau, one in 2012 and the other in January of this year.

Tech has since disbanded its chapter of the fraternity for three years. The alleged assailant, Caleb Ackerman, was arrested in February on charges of sexual assault and is no longer a Tech student, according to school officials.

The lawsuit alleges that a rampant pro-rape culture existed at the house which made the assaults on the two women inevitable. The suit says that the chapter’s March 6, 2013, board meeting minutes declare “rape is good.”

It says the brothers kept a “conquest board, passed down from class to class, which tracked women who had sex with multiple members.”

“Some of the absolute worst misogyny and examples of rape culture were taking place at this house,” said Cari Simon, an attorney for the women.

The lawsuit comes amid increasing national attention on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. The White House has launched a push to combat what they have labeled a growing problem. A study by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, found that many colleges were fumbling their handling of sexual assault cases in violation of federal law.

In Georgia, reports of sexual assault and rape have risen at most campuses including Tech, according to the most recent campus security figures reported to the the U.S. Department of Education.

The case against Tech’s chapter of Phi Kappa Tau (PKT) unfolded after a woman came forward to police in January and said she had been raped at the fraternity on Jan. 17. According to a police report reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the woman said that after consuming alcohol provided by fraternity members she walked over to the couch in Ackerman’s bedroom and lost consciousness. After coming to, she began sobbing saying “something bad happened.”

When she awoke the next morning she asked Ackerman about the previous night saying she had no memory of part of the evening. He replied that she had drank large amounts of his bourbon. He then said, “Awww man, I’ve been this (expletive) before.”

Not understanding him, she left the room. Later that day the two exchanged text messages and he then told her they had sex. He said in the texts that she seduced him. She said she had no recollection of what had transpired.

After she came forward with her allegations another woman, also a student at Agnes Scott College, said Ackerman had raped her in 2012 after a semi-formal event at the fraternity. She said he had also supplied her large amounts of alcohol. After vomiting, she also laid down on Ackerman’s couch. He then “did engage in sexual intercourse with her as she lay helpless,” according to the police report.

The second victim told Georgia Tech police that she did not want to pursue criminal charges against Ackerman but was coming forward to confirm the other victim’s account of his behavior.

The names of the woman are being withheld because they are victims of sexual assault. They are identified in the lawsuits as Jane and June Doe. The AJC was unable to reach Ackerman Thursday.

PKT was suspended in 2013 after the rape bait email surfaced, and they were then disbanded in March — after the rape allegations — for violating the terms of their suspension. According to a letter of disbandment, the fraternity exhibited “a pattern of sexual violence that….suggests a deep-rooted culture within the fraternity that is obscene, indecent and endangers women.”

In April, Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson confronted the issue of sexual assault on campus in an opinion piece published in the campus newspaper, saying “we can and must do more to raise awareness and take the appropriate action against those who commit such acts.”

Weeks later, Tech updated its sexual misconduct policy.

Georgia Tech is not named in the two lawsuits, which seek an unspecified amount of damages.

The lawsuits are the third and fourth filed this year against a Tech fraternity.

In January, lawsuits were filed against Phi Gamma Delta by two Georgia State students.

In one, a young women alleges she woke up partially clothed in a common area of the the house with vile slurs scrawled on her body. In the other, a different women clans she was raped at fraternity formal event in New Orleans. Both incidents took place in 2012.

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