The national Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity said it has expelled two members from its University of Minnesota chapter for their interference in a rape investigation against another fraternity member.
As detailed in Sunday’s Star Tribune, U student Daniel Drill-Mellum violently raped then 19-year-old Abby Honold in his apartment in November 2014. He is now serving six years in prison.
A day after the rape, one of Drill-Mellum’s fraternity brothers sent a message to Honold asking to speak with her about the incident. He and another fraternity member put an unsuspecting Honold on speaker phone and made a recording of themselves as they spoke with her, records and interviews show.
During the conversation, one of them asked Honold if she and Drill-Mellum had had consensual sex. Honold misunderstood the question, and said “yeah.”
During other parts of the video, she clearly described being raped, and told the two that Drill-Mellum gagged her and caused her several injuries.
Toward the end of the video, the first man discouraged Honold from reporting the incident to police.
“What he did, obviously from what you explained, is terrible,” he told her, “but I do want you to think about what the consequences [are] with him and his future. …”
After the video made its way to Drill-Mellum’s attorneys, the Hennepin County attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case, according to police and court records.
The Star Tribune is not naming the men because neither of them was charged with a crime. They did not respond to requests for comment. Their Facebook pages were deactivated as of Tuesday.
In a statement, the CEO of Virginia-based SigEp, Brian Warren, said the fraternity “stands strongly against those who would commit this callous act as well as those who seek to cover it up.”
“The deplorable acts committed by these former members are directly opposed to the values of our Fraternity. We will continue to work every day to create a safe environment for our members and their fellow students.”
The national fraternity said after investigating the incident that it took no action against the local chapter because the rest of the members were not involved, said spokesman Andrew Parrish. Chapter leadership sought out sexual assault prevention training this fall, he said.
The president of the local chapter of SigEp, Parker Olson, referred questions to Parrish.
Honold said Tuesday that she was pleased with the national SigEp’s actions.
“I hope nobody ever has to go through what I did again,” she said.
Over the next year after Drill-Mellum was released, Honold said she lived in fear of him and faced accusations that she lied about the attack. She considered suicide, checked herself into a psychiatric hospital and was diagnosed with PTSD.
Former University of Minnesota officer Kevin Randolph reopened the investigation after he was given the video by Honold’s attorney, Amy Isenor. When he watched the tape, he said he heard one of the men mumble the word “consensual” and realized that Honold had been tricked with the call.
It would take Randolph more than six months to gather more evidence against Drill-Mellum. The break in the case came in Halloween 2015, when another student who accused Drill-Mellum of raping her in the summer of 2014 saw him at a SigEp party, according to police records.
That victim and a woman whom Drill-Mellum raped in the SigEp laundry room on Halloween 2014 called Randolph and provided statements about the attacks.
The SigEp statement did not say when the two men were expelled from the fraternity. Drill-Mellum was expelled from the fraternity on Nov. 9, 2014, the day after he raped Honold, Parrish said. He was also expelled from the U before he was convicted in August of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for Honold’s rape and the rape of the student on Halloween 2014.