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Cal State San Marcos Investigating Sex Assault Allegations

Campus officials say the allegations involve members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity

Cal State San Marcos officials announced on Friday that they are investigating multiple allegations of sexual assault involving members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

The college and Oceanside police are looking into a report of a rape on May 4 at an off-campus party hosted by the fraternity, and additional reports that members were involved in other sexual assaults on or near the campus and at off-campus residences where Tau Kappa Epsilon members lived, according to a university statement.

University officials issued a campus alert on Friday for the "possible threat to the campus community." The fraternity has not been a recognized student organization for nine years, although most of its local members were believed to be California State University San Marcos students, according to the university.

Bridget Blanshan, the Title IX coordinator at CSUSM, told KPBS on Friday that university officials waited nearly four months to inform the public of the rape because they didn’t want to inadvertently compromise the investigation.

“The investigation started with Oceanside police, and when local law enforcement is involved we partner with them," Blanshan said. "The university also engaged in fact finding with them through the summer to determine possibly if there was a wider scope to the problem.”

The fall semester begins Monday at Cal State San Marcos, and officials want to warn students not to hang out with Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity members, Blanshan said.

"We want students to be particularly careful with whom they associate. We’re encouraging students be aware of this should they be inclined to associate with a TKE event,” she said.

The school is advising "students and all campus community members to consider carefully whether their presence at or near TKE social events and parties could place them in danger of sexual assault, date rape drugs or similar illegal drug and/or alcohol use and abuse," according to a statement issued by the university.

The May 4 assault involved one member of the fraternity and the use of date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol, GHB and ketamine, the university said.

Other allegations against the fraternity include pervasive hazing, intimidating a victim or witness, harassment and tampering, vandalism, providing illegal drugs and alcohol to minors, and illegal drug use, according to the statement.

"I am appalled and deeply saddened by these reports," university President Karen Hayes said in a statement. "The safety and wellbeing of our entire campus community is the highest priority for CSUSM. We will not tolerate nor ignore sexual assault and we will hold members of our campus community accountable for their actions."

Tau Kappa Epsilon lost its recognition as a student organization in 2005 as a result of underage alcohol use and a failure to maintain academic standing.

The national fraternity's organization told KPBS on Friday that it has temporarily suspended the San Marcos chapter.

Cal State San Marcos officials asked anyone with information about the sexual assault incidents or who believed they or someone they know was a victim to come forward and report it to the university by calling (760) 750-4567 or (760) 750-7233, or to local law enforcement or the state Attorney General's Office.

Sexual assault victims were encouraged to seek confidential support by calling (760) 750-4915.

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