State College Police: Investigation into alleged sexual assault at fraternity can’t move forward without more information

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ)–Wednesday, Penn State University temporarily suspended an off-campus fraternity after sexual assault allegations were made against four fraternity members.

The Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, located on Prospect Avenue in State College Borough, is the fraternity named in a timely warning published by PSU Police.

University Police say Tuesday morning, they received a third party report claiming that four unidentified fraternity members sexually assaulted a PSU student at the Alpha Epsilon Pi house, on January, 15.

PSU Police list the name of the victim as “unknown”. They say the third party report came from someone who talked to the victim, who’s gender is not listed.

Tuesday, University Police passed this information on to State College Police, who’s investigating because the house is under their jurisdiction.

Department Lieutenant Greg Brauser says the investigation is active, but they can’t do much with the information they have.

“We have very, very limited information at this point so we are looking for the public’s assistance and any information they may have,” he said.

Lt. Brauser says State College PD needs more information for the investigation to continue.

As a result of Alpha Epsilon Pi’s interim suspension, the fraternity cannot:

  • Recruit new members
  • Participate in University-wide functions (including THON if the suspension is still in place during the event)
  • Host social events

Penn State reports that the fraternity’s national organization is cooperating with the investigation and that additional sanctions may be put into place depending on the outcome of the case.

How common are third-part reports of sexual assault?

WTAJ spoke with a State College organization that frequently handles calls related to sexual violence.

With reports of this alleged sexual assault coming from a third party, some feel this hurts the credibility of the report, however, others feel differently.

Sarah McPherson, Director of Outreach and Education for Centre Safe (an organization that deals with those impacted by sexual violence) feels every claim is important to investigate.

“Any report of sexual assault is important to take seriously…to believe that report, whether it’s the victim themselves or a third party,” she said adding that third party reports of sex assault are fairly common.

McPherson feels that sexual assault awareness training on college campuses have increased the number of third party reports, as many students now intervene if they see or hear of an assault.

McPherson said these types of reports are especially common for a victim who does not want their name in the spotlight.

“Folks who are victimized are not always in a place where they want to report… we see a lot of people who may want to report but not want an investigation,” McPherson said.

State College Police say they often look into sexual assault cases passed on to their department by PSU Police. This includes timely warning reports.

Lt. Brauser said its common that the original information handed over to State College PD does not contain enough detail for an investigation to continue.

For this case, the department says if they do not receive any information moving forward, the case cannot move forward.

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