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Iowa City police got report of sex assault at University of Iowa fraternity
Search warrant outlines steps taken to verify incident that sparked protests
IOWA CITY — Late on Sept. 10, 2020, an Iowa City police officer went to the Delta Delta Delta sorority and took a report of a sexual assault the woman said had occurred five days earlier during a party at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity — or FIJI, according to search warrant documents.
This week, days of protests broke out on the University of Iowa campus over the alleged incident and a lack of criminal charges since then.
According to the search warrant, the woman told police she had awoken with bruised arms and legs but no memory of what had occurred during the fraternity party on Sept. 5, 2020. But her friends learned of a video going around showing two of the fraternity brothers having sex with her, according to the search warrant affidavit seeking evidence for an investigation.
The woman — who The Gazette is not naming — “was advised this video was sent on an application called ‘Group Me,’ ” according to the affidavit, which has not led to any arrests. She told police the two fraternity brothers had contacted her and asked her “to not contact the police.”
In following up on the report, officers connected with friends of the woman, who led them to the girlfriend of a fraternity member who had received the pictures and video . The girlfriend told the police her boyfriend received a message rom his fraternity president telling members to “delete the pictures going around,” according to the warrant.
The boyfriend had received Snapchat photos from the implicated fraternity brothers showing them having sex with a girl positioned in a chair. The girlfriend told police the photos “didn’t look OK,” according to the warrant.
Police confirmed the reports with the boyfriend, who gave officers the phone numbers of the suspects. Officers reported seizing their cellphones and finding a picture on one “which corroborates a photo” that witnesses had described.
Officers never arrested or filed charges against the students alleged to have committed the assault. And earlier this week, an online petition began circulating spelling out the attack and demanding justice.
The petition, which as of Friday had nearly 109,000 signatures, accuse Iowa City police of gathering evidence of a planned drugging and assault — including DNA, videos and photos — but failing to file charges or prosecute.
Iowa City police and the Johnson County Attorney’s Office have not spoken specifically about the case or any investigation. But earlier this week, the entities released a joint statement requesting the public’s help “in further investigating a sexual assault alleged to have occurred Sept. 5, 2020 at the Iowa Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) fraternity.” Police asked anyone “with information on this alleged incident” to call (319) 356-5275.
Records obtained by The Gazette last year in connection with alleged COVID-19 violations at FIJI indicated the fraternity held impermissible gatherings — including what “may have been a party” — in early and late September 2020.
UI officials said they’re not allowed to discuss sexual assault reports — or even whether they’re investigating one — but UI President Barbara Wilson has told students who’ve emailed her that she’s committed to addressing their concerns and to “effective interventions when instances occur that will hold offenders accountable.”
“Our processes for investigating cases of alleged misconduct are confidential to protect the privacy of those involved and ensure a fair process,” Wilson wrote in an email. “This confidentiality can sometimes make it feel like nothing is happening when in fact we have a committed team of professionals that responds to every allegation and concern.
“There are times, too, when individuals involved decide they do not want to engage with university professionals or utilize the complaint resolution process. But we must and will respect individual choices about how to engage.”
The petition and social media organization has resulted in several nights of protests — including Tuesday night, when more than 1,000 people gathered outside the fraternity house, where some broke windows, spray painted walls and overturned cars.
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