UCF lifts suspension for fraternity after member was accused of rape

Fraternity must follow self-imposed sanctions

ORLANDO, Fla. – The suspension placed on the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at the University of Central Florida after brothers were accused of raping someone at a party this summer was lifted Wednesday, university officials said.

UCF's Office of Student Conduct held a hearing Wednesday to discuss allegations that the fraternity violated school policies regarding disruptive conduct, providing false or misleading information, and alcohol-related misconduct.

The fraternity did not face any charges related to sexual misconduct.

During the hearing, officials decided to lift the suspension on the condition that the chapter abide by its self-imposed sanctions, according to a document released by student conduct officials.

The chapter is not allowed to plan or host any social events during the fall semester, the student conduct officials said. All members, including those who earned a bid but have not been initiated, must complete health and safety workshops by Sept. 13 through the university's Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. The fraternity is also banned from hosting any registered events in the ATO house, according to the document.

Chapter members will meet with an Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life staff member biweekly to ensure the conditions are being met, officials said.

UCF police's public information officer, Courtney Gilmartin, said the Office of Student Conduct is still carrying out the organizational conduct process outlined in the university's Golden Rule Student Handbook.

The fraternity was placed on temporary suspension Aug. 9, after a current and former chapter member were accused of raping someone at a New Years in July party the organization hosted at the chapter's on-campus house on July 22. 

Antonio Candido and Alexander Garces

Police said Alexander Garces, 22, a senior at UCF and current member of Alpha Tau Omega, was arrested on charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment. Antonio Candido, 22, a UCF and fraternity alumnus, was later arrested on the same charges after turning himself in to authorities, police said.

The victim, whose name and sex were redacted from the report, told police that he or she went upstairs with Garces, and Candido followed closely behind and locked the door to the bedroom the three were in.

Garces is accused of being forceful with the victim while touching him or her sexually. The victim tried to stop the attack, but Garces pulled his or her hair and forced the victim to the ground, according to the report.

Police said Candido joined in the attack by pulling off the victim's clothes, which caused the victim to punch Garces in the ribs.

ATO released a statement after the allegations were brought against the brothers, saying the fraternity would continue to cooperate with UCF officials as they were investigated.

In the statement, ATO said another man, whom the victim said was in the room during the rape, is an alumnus of the chapter and that his membership has been suspended by the fraternity.

The fraternity said Friday that the event in July had security officers checking IDs. Going forward, the chapter plans to no longer host social events at its on-campus house and instead find an appropriate, authorized establishments.

"Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) fraternity is grateful for the University Conduct Office Decision to lift its interim suspension. ATO is committed to working with UCF officials regarding compliance with university guidelines relating to chapter operations. In addition, the chapter will continue to work with local authorities in connection with the investigation that resulted in charges against two men," the fraternity said.