(NEW YORK) — The mother of a young woman who was allegedly assaulted at a fraternity party while visiting the University of Southern California is speaking out for the first time.
The woman, who was filmed in shadow to protect her daughter’s identity, said in an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America” that the experience was life-changing for her daughter and said they’re both still dealing with the emotional trauma from the incident two years later.
“Her innocence was lost. We’re never gonna get that back,” she told Veronica Miracle, anchor and reporter for Los Angeles ABC station KABC.
The mom’s daughter was allegedly raped while attending a Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity party with friends while visiting USC in January 2020. The mother and daughter filed a lawsuit against the fraternity and the alleged assailant and said in the suit that the young woman was served drinks despite being “visibly intoxicated and [was] having some difficulty walking.” She became separated from friends and was later taken to an unattended room, according to the lawsuit.
“It was a very crowded, very dark party and people drinking beer and it was just — it was not her element,” the mother told “GMA.”
She said her daughter recalled to her, “I was unconscious and I woke up to a person I don’t even know assaulting me.”
USC launched a Title IX investigation into the matter and the alleged assailant was later dismissed from the university, according to the lawsuit. He denied any wrongdoing and charges were never filed against him, according to a complaint filed after the investigation.
His lawyer also said his client had “passed an independent polygraph examination.”
In a statement to “GMA,” the fraternity said, “Sigma Alpha Mu is aware of the lawsuit, and we advised the Mu Theta chapter to cooperate fully with the university, law enforcement and subsequent fraternity investigations. The chapter has remained in good standing with USC since that time, including when they disaffiliated from university recognition. Due to pending litigation, we are not at liberty to comment further at this time.”
In their lawsuit, the mother and daughter say more could have been done to prevent the alleged rape.
“This is really probably certainly top-five of every parent’s worst nightmare … that you send your child off to school and something like this happens,” Hillary Johns, an attorney for the mother and daughter, told “GMA.”
The young woman also shared a written statement with “GMA” and wrote in part, “What has helped me the most is sharing my story with my friends and support group and realizing that many of my friends have also experienced some sort of sexual trauma. With more of an education, I think it would be easier to talk about. Check in on your friends, keep your friends safe at parties, and never leave anyone alone.”
USC has begun implementing new policies for fraternities and sororities on campus this school year, including requiring security guards at parties, no fall recruiting of freshmen and banning kegs. The policies come after the Southern California school was rocked by sexual assault and drugging allegations, sparking protests last October.
But the new rules have also led multiple fraternities, including Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Mu, Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Zeta Beta Tau, to cut ties with the university and form a new umbrella organization called the University Park Interfraternity Council.
“Over the past several years, our partnership with USC has significantly deteriorated, and become largely unworkable after USC unilaterally suspended, without explanation or cause, all organizational activities for nearly half of the 2021-22 school year,” the fraternity council said in part in a statement shared on Instagram.
The fraternity council has since been advertising fall rush activities online to incoming freshmen.
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