Male Penn Grad Says He Was Sexually Assaulted After 2013 Phi Kappa Psi Party
Recent University of Pennsylvania graduate Reginald Stewart has sued Penn’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity as well as fraternity brother Charles Gibson over a January 2013 incident in which he claims Gibson sexually assaulted him.
Stewart, who was a sophomore at the time of the alleged attack and the newly elected member of Penn’s United Minorities Council, had decided to pledge the fraternity, located at 3934 Spruce Street in University City. And so he attended a “rush party” for new recruits at the Phi Kappa Psi frat on January 12, 2013.
According to his suit, there were several bars set up at the event — no shocker there — and Stewart, who was 19 and couldn’t legally drink at the time, says he was served alcohol by the fraternity and that Gibson, also underage at the time, was served alcohol as well. He maintains that the frat continued to serve him drinks even as he became “severely intoxicated” and claims that they didn’t stop until Stewart was “passing in and out of consciousness.”
Stewart says that Gibson and another fraternity member brought him home to his dormitory at 3820 Locust Walk, just two-tenths of a mile from the Phi Kappa Psi frat house.
According to the suit, Stewart awoke from an unconscious state to find Gibson sexually assaulting him. Stewart claims he was unable to fight Gibson off because of the amount of alcohol he was served at the frat. As a result of the alleged attack, Stewart says he suffered injuries serious enough to require surgeries and to cause permanent scarring, and he also claims that Gibson passed on the sexually transmitted disease HPV to him.
“I really can’t say anything about it,” said Gibson when we asked him about the allegations via telephone.
In a response to the suit filed in court, Gibson doesn’t deny having sex with Stewart that night but claims that the sex was consensual. He denies giving Stewart HPV. As for the allegation that the fraternity served Stewart and him alcohol when they were underage at a rush party on that date, Gibson indicated that was true in the same court filing. He also calls the suit “frivolous.” The fraternity has yet to respond to the allegations in court.
Stewart originally brought the suit in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, and the matter has been transferred to Philadelphia’s federal court. The suit is a personal injury claim and goes after Gibson for alleged assault and battery and the frat for serving Stewart excessive amounts of alcohol. Stewart is seeking $450,000 in damages.
Stewart, a Florida resident, is a member of the Class of 2015 and received a bachelor’s degree in May. Penn’s registrar’s office confirms that Gibson graduated in 2014 with a degree in philosophy.
Phi Kappa Psi fraternities around the country have had a long history of both sexual assault allegations and hazing allegations, from a 1984 gang rape that occurred at the Phi Kappa Psi house at the University of Virginia (that case resulted in a conviction) to a hazing incident at the University of West Virginia in 2013 that led to criminal charges and the frat’s suspension.
Attorneys for Stewart, Gibson and the fraternity did not respond to our request seeking comment, and the national director of Phi Kappa Psi did not return our calls. Ron Ozio, Penn’s director of media relations, told us that the school does not typically comment on lawsuits, and he has yet to indicate whether the school has investigated the fraternity regarding Stewart’s claims.
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