This article contains mention of sexual assault.
A UBC student and former fraternity member has been acquitted of sexual assault in an Ontario court.
Taylor Haas, a former member of the UBC chapter of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity (FIJI), was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman while he attended Queen’s University in 2018. FIJI representatives have told The Ubyssey that he was removed from their fraternity after they learned the details of the trial.
The witness testimony, heard in Kingston in February, described the events of the night of February 21, 2018. The evening started with Haas, the complainant and acquaintances, all students of Queen’s University at the time, drinking together before Haas walked the complainant to his home. Haas and the complainant then allegedly had intercourse. Haas testified that the complainant asked him in the morning if they had had sex and told him her memory was fuzzy.
The trial focused on whether the intoxicated complainant had consented and, if so, if she had been able to consent.
In her decision on August 11, Justice Alison Wheeler ruled that Haas was not guilty of sexual assault, as the Crown had not sufficiently proven that the complainant did not or could not consent.
She said she believed both Haas’s claim that he had a conversation with the complainant before intercourse as well as the complainant’s claim that she did not remember the intercourse.
Removed from FIJI
In a written statement, representatives of the UBC chapter of the FIJI confirmed that Haas was a member of their fraternity and said he was removed in February.
“[Haas] was part of the conversation and he volunteered to leave the chapter,” FIJI representatives wrote. “Had he not volunteered to leave, the fraternity’s decision would not have been different and he would have been told he had to leave.”
Haas corroborated this in a message to The Ubyssey in which he wrote, “Despite my verdict of not guilty, my situation has regretfully caused unrest in the Greek system due to the understandable sensitivity of the subject. For this reason, FIJI and I have collectively decided it would be best for me not to rejoin.”
According to Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Tommi Redl, the IFC and FIJI only found out about Haas’s history when the trial was underway through a February 21 Global News article.
“Promptly after the publication of the article, the IFC notified FIJI. Upon notifying FIJI, they informed the IFC that they were not aware of the allegations prior to the publication of the article,” Redl wrote in an emailed statement.
He added that when the IFC learned of the allegations, the IFC met with chapter leadership.
“During the meeting, FIJI informed IFC they had already evicted this individual from their house, stripped him of his chapter membership and banned him from FIJI in perpetuity.”
Sexual violence prevention within the frats
FIJI and Redl both stressed the actions taken by UBC fraternities to combat sexual assault. Redl wrote that each chapter has risk management teams that stay sober during events to ensure the safety of attendees. Chapters also are expected to have a policy to mitigate and handle “instances of severe intoxication to ensure everyone's safety.”
All UBC fraternity members are required to take a yearly course on consent, bystander intervention and healthy masculinity from the Sexual Assault Support Centre.
This incident comes in a year where conversations about sexual assault within the UBC Greek system have been especially prevalent. In February, the IFC permanently banned open social events after allegations that multiple female students had been drugged at fraternities.
“We recognize that we can do more to actively fight against sexual assault and are recommitting ourselves to taking more action,” FIJI representatives wrote.