No charges issued for alleged rape
By Andrea Lamberti
Ruling on an alleged acquaintance rape that occurred at an MIT fraternity in December, a Boston Municipal Court clerk on Tuesday decided not to issue a criminal complaint against Thomas M. Fahy '91, according to Fahy's lawyer, Bruce T. Macdonald. An MIT sophomore accused Fahy of rape after a Sigma Alpha Epsilon Christmas party Dec. 9.
The clerk, Paul J. Hartnett, said at the hearing, "I cannot in good conscience issue a complaint for rape," according to Macdonald. A criminal complaint is necessary to advance a case beyond the accusation stage.
Even though there are no statutes governing an appeal to a clerk's decision, the woman has already begun appealing the decision, she said. Toward that end, Detective Bernadette Izzard-Stinson, who presented the woman's side of the case, has already submitted a letter to the chief justice of the municipal court, the woman said.
Macdonald felt that the witnesses' testimonies led the clerk to decide there was insufficient evidence to press on with the accusation. "The overwhelming evidence indicated it wasn't rape. . . . Every witness added a little bit to the picture," he said.
Macdonald added that in a clerk's hearing, "The standard of proof is very low. . . . It doesn't take much [evidence] to issue a complaint."
But the woman said the clerk told Izzard-Stinson in so many words that "[the victim] was asking for it."
"What the courts decide is irrelevant," the woman insisted. "He still raped me. . . . Rape is rape; he will always have raped me."
Fahy could not be reached for comment. Macdonald said, though, "I think [Fahy would] just rather put it behind him and go on with his life."
The woman said she is planning to file charges through MIT, although MIT will not act until the court rules a final decision.
Thirteen witnesses testified during the hearing last Friday and on Tuesday. Four members of SAE and three women who do not attend MIT testified on Fahy's behalf; six female MIT students presented testimony on behalf of the woman, Macdonald said.
All of the witnesses had attended a Christmas party at SAE's Beacon Street house Dec. 8, when the alleged rape occurred. The woman accused Fahy of rape the next day. She had attended the party with another member of SAE, both of whom became very drunk at the party, a close friend of the woman said in January.
The woman said the witnesses for Fahy "were trying to make out that I was asking for it; [they were] trying to prove that I wasn't drunk. They also said that they hadn't been drinking all night. They were making it seem like there was no alcohol there."
But Macdonald said it was "pretty clear" to Hartnett that the party-goers were drinking alcohol. "The clerk clearly indicated that he was well aware that . . . alcohol was being consumed. It was no secret at the hearing."
The woman also said the question-and-answer sessions between Macdonald and Fahy's witnesses seemed staged. "I knew they were all lying. Sometimes the clerk would interject, [and] it would throw off [the] witness. [They would] look at the lawyer to see what to say, [and] sometimes the stories didn't match."
The witnesses testifying on the woman's behalf said that she had been drinking, and that alcohol was available at the party. One witness described the woman as "annihilated," she said.
Since the incident, the woman said she has stopped drinking to the point of extreme drunkenness.
No formal guidelines exist for appealing decisions of this nature, Hartnett said. "There's no statute that allows for it that I know of."
Detective George Noonan of the Boston Police said that the case is essentially over. "That should be the end of it," he said.
Noonan added, though, that although the clerk denied issuing a complaint, that does not mean "a person can't reissue for another complaint."
Incident remains a
concern on campus
Although the courts have issued a decision on the case, MIT is still dealing with the incident. "There is a possibility that charges might be filed here, and I'm not going to comment until I know what's going to happen," said Associate Dean for Student Affairs James R. Tewhey.
Neal H. Dorow, advisor to fraternities and independent living groups, said concern about the circumstances surrounding the event remains.
"The feeling is that most people are relieved that the courts have entered a decision," Dorow said. However, he added, "I don't think it changes the circumstances in which the alleged incident occurred."
"We're still concerned about the way alcohol is oftentimes misused in living groups," he said.
The Dean's Office imposed sanctions on SAE last month, placing the fraternity on probation until September 1992.
While on probation, SAE brothers will not serve or consume alcohol "at any social event in which the organization in involved," Tewhey wrote in a letter to SAE in February.
Additionally, the chapter will "arrange to implement and participate in educational programs each semester that cover the subject of date and acquaintance rape and alcohol awareness," Tewhey said in the letter.
"The same or similar" educational programs on acquaintance rape "shall become a regular, mandatory part of the chapter's pledge education program," Tewhey wrote.
Dorow said the sanctions do not otherwise affect the fraternity's rush privileges.
SAE begins seminars
The fraternity began its educational program Feb. 28 by participating in the social midway at MIT sponsored by Greeks Advocating Mature Management of Alcohol (GAMMA).
And Monday night, student health educator Anne L. Gilligan led a discussion about "alcohol and alcohol use on campuses" at the SAE house, she said. Later this semester, Men for an End to Sexual Assault (MESA) will host a house seminar at SAE.
These events, in addition to a fraternity retreat, "are intended to be permanent fixtures in our chapter, and will be rooted in our pledge program," the SAE executive committee wrote to Tewhey on Tuesday.