Last semester at Wesleyan College, a freshman girl went to a pledge strip show party at the school’s Pi Upsilon house. During the party, she was raped as several onlookers stood by and watched.
Today, she is bypassing the bureaucratic tape by taking them all to civil court. Cabri Chamberlin, now a sophomore, has filed a lawsuit against her assailant and 11 other members of the fraternity.
In a previous post, I discussed how rape cases like these aren’t taken seriously enough on college campuses. Chamberlin has gone past that by going past criminal legislation and taking it straight to civil court.
Even if the boys don’t get jail time, a civil case means that they will still have to face what they have done. They may not be tried by a criminal court, but as this case goes further I am sure that the court of public opinion will vilify them appropriately.
The way Chamberlin is handling this situation is extremely brave and presents cases like this in a new light. She requested to have her name released to the media. By putting herself out there in this way she has effectively gained control of the way this case will be perceived. Chamberlin set her own frame when she stood up and described how much this experience has “altered her life” and expressed her ultimate desire to use the lawsuit to “create changes that protects others.”
Because she got in front of the situation, it will be very difficult for anyone to dispute her credibility or for the boys to defend their actions. Wesleyan has already released a statement expressing their sincere regrets about what happened to Chamberlin; had she not been so forthcoming about her situation, the college may not have been either.
Chamberlin may not realize exactly how important this lawsuit, and the subsequent media attention, is for changing the perception of rape cases on college campuses. Indiscretions can’t be swept under the rug when brave girls like her take action beforehand.
Article about the case: