Rape case against frat, Gettysburg College transferred to different federal court

By Charmaine Little | Mar 29, 2019

HARRISBURG - A sexual assault and Title IX lawsuit naming defendants including Gettysburg College was transferred to the Middle District of Pennsylvania as the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on March 19.

Kelsi Kennedy sued the college with accusations that she was assaulted sexually at a Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity party. The school filed a motion to dismiss, saying that there’s nothing about the incident that relates to the Eastern District, and pointed out the place the alleged incident happened is actually in the Middle District. 

Kennedy argued the fraternity does business in the Eastern District, and that Gettysburg recruits students in the area, establishing the minimum business contacts needed for the Eastern District to be the venue.

“The court agrees with Gettysburg that venue is improper in this district,” the court ruled. 

For starters, one of the accusers has no relation to the area, and the defendants don’t reside in the same state, the court ruled. It also reiterated that everything Kennedy alleged happened in the Middle District. 

“Therefore, the case could have been properly brought in that district,” added the court. 

It ultimately transferred the case to the Middle District instead of dismissing it altogether in an effort to prevent Kennedy from having to pay extra costs to refile.

Kennedy said she was sober at the party but started to get hazy after she accepted a drink from a bartender. She said she was later sexually assaulted and went to the emergency room, where she underwent a rape kit administration. The kit revealed that she was assaulted by three men. She reported the incident to the school’s security department, which she claimed did nothing about it.

She then sued the school; the fraternity; the Phi Sigma Kappa Druid Alumni Association; Edward Carroll, one of the alleged assailants; and two unnamed men. She sued for violations of Title IX against the college and sexual assault/sexual abuse/battery against Carroll and the two John Does. 

Gettysburg filed a motion to dismiss, stating it was an improper venue, and for failure to state a claim.

Judge Berle Schiller ruled on the case.

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