World News

Ex-Girlfriend Sues Florida College Student, Alleging He Shared Intimate Videos

Posted June 14, 2018 8:12 p.m. EDT

A student at the University of Central Florida shared videos of sexual encounters he had with his girlfriend in a secret Facebook group for his fraternity brothers without her permission, the woman alleges in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Kathryn Novak, a student in Arizona, said she learned in March that her intimate photos and videos had been shared in a secret Facebook group when she saw someone’s text message to her long-distance boyfriend that mentioned a sexual video. Her boyfriend, Brandon Simpson, did not deny sharing the video in the Facebook group named “Dog Pound” in October, according to the lawsuit.

Novak’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti — who is best known for representing Stephanie Clifford, the porn actress professionally known as Stormy Daniels, in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump — said in an interview Thursday that the sharing of Novak’s images had been “devastating to her.”

“The fact that you had a basically frat-boy atmosphere, both literally and figuratively, that was centered on the exploitation of women without their knowledge or consent is outrageous,” he said.

The lawsuit names as defendants Simpson; Delta Sigma Phi, the fraternity; and four other fraternity brothers who were said to have viewed the video.

Simpson declined to speak with a reporter when reached by phone Thursday. Efforts to reach the other fraternity brothers were not immediately successful.

Avenatti said the four other men were named because they were known to have viewed the video, while the fraternity “fostered this environment.”

In a statement, Delta Sigma Phi said that it had suspended its chapter at the University of Central Florida.

“While we cannot comment on specific allegations made in the lawsuit, these claims are disturbing and antithetical to our organization’s values and mission,” the fraternity said.

The university said in a statement that the allegations were “contrary to our core values.”

“Although UCF is not a party to the suit, we are gathering information,” it said.

Simpson and Novak were in a long-distance relationship from October 2017 to February 2018, seeing each other a few times per month, according to the lawsuit. While the sexual encounters were consensual, and Novak had sent her boyfriend intimate photos and videos, she had not given him permission to share her images, the lawsuit said. At least one sexual video was recorded without her knowledge, Avenatti said.

She was nude with her face identifiable in one video, which Simpson sent to five fraternity brothers and later showed to others during a house meeting, according to the lawsuit. The video was seen by more than 200 people, none of whom suggested Simpson delete it, according to the lawsuit.

The images were shared to the Facebook group, which Avenatti said contained images and videos of sexual activities with “many” other women.

Social media has become an additional problem for fraternities, already under fire for deadly hazing and underage drinking practices.

In 2015, Penn State suspended its Kappa Delta Rho chapter for three years after discovering it had operated a similar private Facebook page. The page included images of nude, unconscious women, in addition to photos of drugs, hazing and underage drinking.

Last week, Syracuse University suspended 15 fraternity brothers who participated in videos described by the school’s chancellor as racist and anti-Semitic. Syracuse suspended the fraternity in April.

On Wednesday, Ryan Burke, a former Penn State fraternity member, pleaded guilty to several misdemeanor charges related to the death of Timothy Piazza, who was 19 when he died after a binge-drinking hazing ritual in February 2017. Twenty-five other defendants have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.