Judge drops national fraternity from explicit photos lawsuit

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) – A judge has dismissed a national fraternity from a lawsuit over the distribution of sexually explicit photographs of a female student at the University of Arkansas.

Washington County Circuit Judge Doug Martin on Monday dismissed the case against Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity Inc., but ordered the lawsuit to proceed against the national organization’s local chapter.

The lawsuit alleges a fraternity pledge reached his cellphone over a locked bathroom stall and took photos of sexual activity involving the woman suing the fraternity and an unnamed fraternity associate member at a party in 2017. Court documents identify the pledge as Garrett Wolff.

The woman’s attorneys argued that the national organization failed to train and oversee the local chapter. But the national headquarters said it doesn’t supervise or control the behavior of fraternity members, the Arkansas-Democrat Gazette reported Wednesday.

The photos were taken without the woman’s knowledge or consent, according to court records. The woman was a first-year student at University of Arkansas-Fayetteville at the time of the party.

“The Plaintiff is grateful of the consideration of the Court to the facts and issues in this case and looks forward to presenting her claims against the Defendants at trial,” George Rozzell, an attorney representing the woman, said in an email.

Johnathan Horton, the fraternity’s attorney, declined to comment.

Court records show the local fraternity chapter admitted that Wolff shared the photos through an email listserv used by fraternity members. A fraternity member “without knowledge or permission of the Chapter” then downloaded and forwarded the images to a student who wasn’t a fraternity member, according to court records.

Meanwhile, the local chapter “denies it acted in concert with associate member Garrett Wolff and any member who distributed such photographs.”

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