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Lawsuit accuses frat brothers of sharing nude imagery without woman's consent

Fraternity members also maintained a private Facebook page of videos and photos of "sexual conquests," the suit claims. They called it the Dog Pound.
by Dennis Romero and Stephanie Giambruno /

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An Arizona woman filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday against her former boyfriend and four of his fraternity brothers at the University of Central Florida, accusing them of sharing a videotape of the couple having sex without her consent.

In her suit, Kathryn Novak of Prescott, Arizona, claims that the five men, members of Sigma Delta Chi at the Orlando university, shared and viewed nude videos and photos of her without her permission last year. She was in a long-distance relationship with one defendant, Brandon Simpson, at the time.

The unauthorized sharing took place via a secret Facebook page and at fraternity chapter meetings, the filing claims. The fraternity is also named in the suit.

Image: Kathryn Novak
Kathryn NovakCourtesy Michael Avenatti

On Thursday, the fraternity's parent organization suspended the University of Central Florida chapter, and the university said in a statement that it was looking into the claims.

The defendants are accused of invasion of Novak's privacy, infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

The lawsuit says members of the fraternity also posted nude imagery of their "sexual conquests" to the Facebook page — all without the women's consent. Novak's attorney, Michael Avenatti — better known as the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with President Donald Trump — said in a phone interview from California that there are more victims in the case. "We expect there to be numerous victims at this time — certainly into the double digits," he said.

The complaint, filed in United States District Court for the the Middle District of Florida in Orlando, states that Novak and Simpson saw each other twice a month. In October of last year, the suit alleges, he recorded video of a sexual encounter with her and quickly distributed it to four fraternity brothers, Jacob Pelkey, Andre Perales, Jonathan Landrum and Matt Farley.

Simpson and the others eventually passed it along to a wider fraternity audience for viewing at chapter meetings, the suit alleges. The video ended up on a "secret" Facebook page they called the Dog Pound, it says, along with erotic pictures of Novak that she had sent to her boyfriend with the understanding that he would not let others see them.

Members used the page "to post nude videos and nude pictures of their girlfriends and other unwitting female victims, including images depicting the young women engaged in private sexual activities," the suit reads.

Image: Michael Avenatti speaks to reporters
Michael Avenatti on May 30 in New York. He is representing a woman who is suing members of a Florida fraternity over the distribution of nude photos and videos.Don Emmert / AFP — Getty Images

This is a violation of university rules, the filing alleges.

The Sigma Delta Chi chapter knew about the Facebook page and yet did nothing, fostering a "frat boy" culture, the filing claims.

University police could not be reached for comment. University spokesman Mark Schlueb said via email that the university is gathering information about the claims.

"These allegations are contrary to our core values," he said.

Sigma Delta Chi's national officials said it suspended the Orlando chapter.

"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 statement reads.

The suit says Novak suffered damage to her reputation. It seeks compensatory, statutory and punitive damages as well as attorneys' fees.

It wasn't clear yet what kind of damages will be sought, although the filing lists costs and interest in excess of $75,000. "We'll let a jury decide," Avenatti said.

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