A 17-year-old College of Charleston freshman attending a fraternity party for new pledges in August was given alcohol and cocaine, stripped of her clothes and raped while one of her alleged assailants took graphic photos of her on his cellphone, police records state.
Much of the 39 pages of reports have been redacted by police, but they provide a revealing look into the dark side of the college’s raucous party scene, fueled by drugs and alcohol.
Now two C of C fraternity brothers face charges of sexually abusing a minor. Timothy Seppi, 21, has been charged with first- and third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. His fraternity brother, James West III, 22, was arrested earlier this week and charged with engaging a child for sexual performance.
Three days after the alleged assault took place, Alpha Epsilon Pi’s headquarters revoked the college’s chapter charter. On the same day, the college banned alcohol at Greek functions.
Seppi and West were arrested in the weeks following after Charleston police found a sexually explicit photograph of the alleged victim on Seppi’s iPhone. It showed the teen undressed and sitting on a bed with a naked male, whom she later identified as West through a photograph lineup. Neither man has been charged with rape. Police say the investigation is ongoing.
According to police documents provided to The Post and Courier, the young woman arrived at Seppi’s Ashley Avenue house with a group of friends on Aug. 27 to celebrate “Bid Day,” the end of fraternity recruitment when potential new brothers are officially invited to join a fraternity chapter. The teenager, described by one friend as spontaneous and outgoing with an ease for making new friends, arrived at the Alpha Epsilon Pi party around 2:30 p.m. It was her third stop of the day, after a few drinks at parties on South and Coming streets, the documents state, and at least her fourth time that week hanging out with the brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi.
The party was “huge,” one of Seppi’s housemates told police. About 130 people reveled in the backyard, where fraternity brothers had set up a water slide. They celebrated with kegs of beers and coolers of vodka-spiked orange juice.
In an interview with police, the teen said two young men she had never met approached her at the party. They talked about the music before encouraging her to go inside. According to police, “James (West) then took her by the arm and pulled it,” so she would come upstairs with them. At some point, according to her interview with police, she became “alarmed and tried to divert herself back out to her friends.”
What happened next is redacted in the police documents. But the teen told police she had ingested cocaine for the first time in Seppi’s bedroom.
After the incident, documents state, another girl, described as Seppi’s girlfriend, walked into Seppi’s bedroom, where she found a “hysterically crying, naked female” standing by his bed while he frantically searched for her clothes. According to the alleged victim’s account, when she told her she had been raped, the girl “immediately dismissed the allegation,” grabbed her a shirt and shuffled the young woman down the stairs and out of the house.
The teen took an Uber ride to her dorm. Once there, her friends and resident adviser convinced her to go to Medical University Hospital for a rape kit. She told police she initially didn’t want to report the assault because she “didn’t want to deal with it or think about it anymore than (she) had to.”
Meanwhile, the Alpha Epsilon Pi party continued. Fraternity brothers hired strippers for incoming pledges, a friend of the alleged victim told police. The friend told police Seppi appeared “highly intoxicated and became extremely aggressive” toward the strippers before “he was thrown out of the party.” According to police documents, Seppi continued to “harass and yell at the strippers as they left the house.”
Seppi, West and others exchanged text messages the day after the alleged assault, police documents show.
In one text message, Seppi sent a friend one of the photos he took of the alleged victim.
“Ewwww. Who is she,” the friend responded.
“Lol random drunk chick that was in my room for some reason,” he replied.
Doug Pardue contributed to this report. Reach Deanna Pan at 843-937-5764.