UK's Ancient University Embroiled in Sex Scandal

Published August 12th, 2020 - 08:35 GMT
Kate Kennedy Club (Twitter)
Kate Kennedy Club (Twitter)
The Kate Kennedy Club voted to admit female students to the exclusive society in 2012, three years after St Andrews withdrew its official recognition of the club.

One of St Andrews University's most prestigious student societies has become embroiled in the sex scandal sweeping the ancient university. 

Members of the Kate Kennedy Club have been accused by students of sexual assaults including groping, sexual violence and misogynistic drunken behaviour.

The allegations against the club, which include 'drunk and aggressive' behaviour, follow sex assault claims levelled against members of a US-style fraternity. 

A spokesman for the Kate Kennedy Club confirmed it has launched an investigation and is taking the 'appalling allegations extremely seriously'. 

They told The Times: 'The Kate Kennedy Club takes these appalling allegations extremely seriously and we have launched an immediate investigation. 

'We will work closely with the university and any other relevant authorities on this and take both appropriate and meaningful action in due course.'  

MailOnline has contacted the Kate Kennedy Club for further information.

One woman claiming she suffered a 'panic attack' after a member of the club, best known for its annual procession where members dress as historical figures including Mary, Queen of Scots, assaulted her at a student ball.

Another member of the club allegedly became 'drunk and aggressive' and tried forcibly to kiss the same woman, she wrote in a post.  

A separate allegation claims a member of the Kate Kennedy Club called an alleged female victim a 'stupid slut' and mocked her for being 'ugly' before declaring that his membership of the society made him 'invincible'.

She also accused the club of hosting 'notoriously boozy dinners' that culminated in 'terrifying' violent behaviour including dish-smashing.

The Kate Kennedy Club voted to admit female students to the exclusive society in 2012, three years after St Andrews withdrew its official recognition of the club.

Louise Richardson, then university principal, wrote to students in 2009 that she could not endorse a club 'from which so many of our students are excluded at birth'.

Commenting on the sex assault allegations, a St Andrews University spokesman told MailOnline: 'We repeat our plea for any student who has experienced sexual misconduct to report details to the university or to the police. 

'We remain ready and willing to support them.'  

It comes after several members of the Scottish university's chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), an all-male and predominantly Jewish society, were suspended following a series of claims made on the St Andrews Survivors Instagram page. 

AEPi said members who 'acknowledged any role' in the allegations were swiftly suspended and referred for expulsion pending investigation.  

The fraternity insists it 'unconditionally opposes' sexual misconduct and pledged to root out any offending members.

But it is facing calls to abandon an internal probe and hand over information to the authorities because of the seriousness of the allegations.

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie, whose North East Fife constituency includes St Andrews, urged AEPi to cooperate with officers.

'This is not an issue for AEPi to resolve themselves; it has gone well beyond that,' he told The Times. 

He said it was for detectives, not AEPi's leadership, to drill down into the 'deeply worrying allegations' for the sake of the complainants.

But the fraternity insists it will work with police should an investigation be launched.

Media spokesperson Jonathan Pierce told MailOnline: 'Since these anonymous allegations against unnamed individuals were first made public, Alpha Epsilon Pi has said that we will completely cooperate with all investigations made by proper authorities. 

'They are clearly better equipped and trained to handle that investigation than is our organization. 

'To the best of my knowledge, at this time, no one from the police has approached any members.' 

He added: 'If anyone has indicated that that our members are not being cooperative, I am not aware of it and I believe that is completely untrue. 

'There is absolutely no room in Alpha Epsilon Pi for this type of behavior and if the allegations are properly investigated and found to be true, we will immediately begin the process to expel those members from the fraternity and hope that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.' 

Since its inception earlier this month, the St Andrews Survivors Instagram channel has been flooded with claims from current and ex-students about rape, sexual assault and harassment. 

More than a hundred episodes of misconduct were alleged to have taken place at the world-famous institution, including 20 claims of rape and dozens more for sexual assault, harassment and domestic violence. 

One anonymous post said: 'I was out drinking and had met a frat boy through friends. I had a meltdown outside The Union and he comforted me, I explained that I had been sexually assaulted on another night out.

'He offered to take me to his for some water since he lived nearby and I didn't. I was very drunk and so he put me to bed and he was going to sleep on the floor.

'I woke up sometime later and he was in the bed with me feeling me up. I can't believe anyone could do this.' 

A university spokeswoman said that AEPi is not an official St Andrews society but vowed to 'take action' and 'facilitate Police reporting'. 

'The university is making sexual education mandatory for students, but it is not believe any of the claims have been reported to police.

St Andrews is the UK's third oldest university and was attended by Prince William and Kate Middleton. 

'Multiple' accusations were directed at members of AEPi, a branch of a US college fraternity which counts Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg among its alumni.

Some of the allegations reportedly occurred at society events, which include toga parties but also charity fundraisers.

On July 3, AEPi released a statement saying: 'Alpha Epsilon Pi St Andrews was made aware of allegations of sexual assault, harassment, and rape against multiple members of our fraternity, including incidents at chapter events. 

'We find the contents of these allegations abhorrent, and are taking them extremely seriously.'

It added: 'The chapter was unaware of these allegations before they were brought to light. As soon as chapter leadership was made aware of the allegations we assembled our members to gather additional information.

'Following these discussions, the chapter immediately suspended members who acknowledged any role in the alleged incidents and entered them into Alpha Epsilon Pi's expulsion process, which allows for thorough investigation, a standard that will apply any time more evidence comes to light.'  

It is not clear how many members were suspended, but the Telegraph reported two.

AEPi has faced sexual abuse allegations at other universities, including the Penn State chapter which was suspended following a police investigation.  

This article has been adapted from its original source.     

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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