A student who said he was assaulted by members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity last year is now filing a lawsuit seeking damages from SAE.
LSA senior Calvin Kattola filed a lawsuit against SAE last Thursday, citing “ethnic intimidation” as one of the charges.
David Nacht, Kattola’s attorney, said he and the plaintiff are seeking damages from a jury and that, based on the evidence they have gathered, they will show that the fraternity has a “serious issue” with underage drinking and violence.
“Based on investigation that we’ve done, I have significant concerns about this frat,” Nacht said. “I do not think that this incident is isolated, and evidence that we bring forth will show that they have a significant problem. This particular frat has had multiple incidents, but we will see how the evidence comes out.”
Kattola and his attorney filed the lawsuit because they believe the attacks were connected to ethnic intimidation. According to a police report filed in February of last year, members of SAE punched and kicked Kattola while repeatedly calling him a “sand-nigger,” Nacht said.
The alleged attack was connected to a feud between SAE and Delta Kappa Epsilon, and it occurred outside the DKE house, located on Olivia Street.
SAE was placed on suspension from the Interfraternity Council as a result of the events that night, but no criminal charges had been filed until last Thursday.
In Kattola’s four-count complaint filed at the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, he accused SAE members of fueling the violence that ensued that night by supplying minors with alcohol and encouraging an intra-fraternal feud.
Nacht said that he was disappointed with the way the University handled the matter, and said that the University did not ensure that underage drinking was prevented.
“This lawsuit should be a clear indication that if you get drunk and beat people up because you don’t like their ethnic group you are going to be held responsible,” Nacht said. “My law firm is actively investigating abusive behavior by Greeks on campus and it is my personal view that the University has not tried to curb the abuses.”
He said that it was now his job to seek justice.
“If the University isn’t going to do it and the police aren’t either, civil rights attorneys like me are going to do it,” Nacht said.
“Its outrageous that a student can be on campus and be attacked,” he added.
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson explained that fraternities and sororities are off-campus private property, and the University does not have the ability to punish an entire fraternity.
“Either the national organization will order sanctions or the Inter-Fraternity Council and Pan-Hellenic (Council) will,” Peterson said. “The university can only directly punish individual students.”
Peterson said that despite the fact that fraternity houses are private property, the University still stays involved and has the concern of every student’s safety in mind.
“The University is concerned about the safety of our students and we work closely with Greek organizations over safety, but our ability to intervene directly in activities (occurring) on off-campus private property does have limitations,” Peterson said.
Peterson admitted that much progress has been made in the Greek system, but there is still more work to be done.
Jon Krasnov, Inter-Fraternity Council spokesman, declined to comment until he was better informed on the situation and the pending lawsuit. Paul Mezan, SAE president, was unavailable for comment.