Secrecy, rumors muddy Alpha Delta investigation
More than a week after the investigation resulting in a Hanover Police raid of Alpha Delta fraternity was suspended indefinitely, students remain in the dark about the reasons behind the search, causing information and misinformation to circulate campus.
On the day of the search, Hanover Police Captain Frank Moran reportedly told AD alumni adviser John Engelman '68 that they were searching for a sex tape and gave the names of both the accuser and the accused. Engelman said that he recognized the name of the accused videographer, an AD member of the Class of 2003, and learned that the female was a member of the Class of 2006 by conferring with current AD members and checking the Dartmouth Name Directory.
According to Engelman, Moran said that the alleged tape portrayed consensual sexual activity, but that the taping itself was non-consensual.
Both Engelman and members of AD have said that they believe no tape exists.
"We understand that what she claims exists does not exist and never existed," Alpha Delta President Caleb Powers '08, a member of The Dartmouth staff, said. He said that the fraternity came to that consensus after talking to older members, but not including the accused.
Compared to Moran and Engelman, Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone has been tight-lipped on the investigation, but he did confirm that Hanover Police has not found sufficient evidence to make any arrests in conjunction with the warrant. He has invariably cited the privacy of both individuals involved as the reason for the secrecy.
Giaccone has also commented on the complaints about the timing of the search which, although part of a two-year-long investigation, occurred days before Commencement ceremonies were to take place. The police chief told The Dartmouth that the timing was not "pre-planned," but that the information required for the search warrant materialized just days before the search.
Beyond that information, law enforcement has not made public any parts of the case, from the names of those involved to the information and evidence that led to the 14-officer search of the fraternity house. Hanover Police asked the court to seal all documents related to the case and the court agreed.
Last week Engelman said that he went public with the information he learned from Moran in order to dispel faulty rumors, such as the possibility that police were searching for "kiddie porn," he said.
As of now, a pocket of the Dartmouth community, which includes much of the AD membership, knows the names of the two individuals involved in the case.
In an interview with The Dartmouth, Giaccone stood by Moran's disclosure to Engelman, saying that "there has to be a certain level of communication" between Hanover Police and AD's adviser. Giaccone called Engelman's decision to spread that information throughout some members of AD "disconcerting."
"That's his decision that he has to live with," Giaccone said of Engelman. Moran refused to comment on whether he asked Engelman to keep their conversation between the two of them.
Giaccone said that publicizing the circumstances of the search without publicizing names would also violate the privacy concerns, because many people could "fill in the blanks."
The speculations, which have focused both on the fraternity and on the accuser, have varied greatly. Some believe that the accuser went to the police solely because she had heard rumors of the tape's existence. Others have heard that the wrongdoing extended beyond the individual and that the fraternity might be implicated.
"Because the warrant is still sealed and the information hasn't come out, I think people are still unsure as to what to think," Powers said, adding that the incident was especially unfortunate for the seniors preparing to graduate. "I really hope that they had a really good reason to do it when they did. I hope they had a good reason to do it at all."
Regardless of whether AD is actually a subject of this investigation, the search has garnered the storied fraternity -- and the College -- media attention nationwide. Nearly all headlines of stories about the case have referred to AD as "Animal House" or in some way have highlighted the fraternity's reputation of having inspired the movie.
Giaccone refused to comment on whether he felt the national media attention focused on the fraternity was regrettable.
He did say that he did not think the number of officers present at the search -- seven times as many as Hanover Police typically has on duty during the day -- contributed to the media frenzy. Powers disagreed.
"Putting myself in the shoes of national media, 14 officers bringing out 10 crates with two sledgehammers, that sounds like it's going to be huge," Powers said. "I don't blame any national media outlet for seizing on the story."