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Sigma Nu sues councilwoman

Sigma Nu fraternity filed a lawsuit on Thursday against three individuals for trespassing at the house in September.
The suit was filed in Peoria County Court against second district Councilwoman Barbara Van Auken, Andrew Rand and Sid Ruckriegel.
In September, the group approached members of the fraternity in front of their house because they felt the noise was too loud, according to police reports. Hall said they were repeatedly asked to leave the property but refused to comply.
“This is a big issue,” said Jeff Hall, an attorney representing the fraternity. “[Sigma Nu] must be represented for what happened.”
He also said the suit is not a political move, it’s a just one.
“This is about outrageous conduct of a public official,” Hall said. “And it’s about under-represented students in this city.”
The suit is requesting no more than $50,000 from the three individuals, as well as $50,000 from the city of Peoria, because Van Auken was acting in an official capacity.
Hall said the case isn’t about money, either.
“If any money is recovered from this lawsuit, Sigma Nu will donate the entire amount to their charity, the Children’s Hospital of Illinois,” according to a press release.
And the firm of Hall, Owens and Wickenhauser, L.L.C is not charging Sigma Nu for their representation, Hall said.
About 11:30 p.m. Sept. 19, University Police responded to the fraternity at 1300 Fredonia Ave. in regards to a noise complaint, Hall said.
BUPD Sgt. Nora Fales arrived at the house but didn’t think the noise was excessive, according to police reports.
Fales asked the group standing in the rear of Sigma Nu to move inside, or to the front yard, and they complied.
About 20 minutes later, BUPD received a second complaint saying the people gathered at the house were too noisy, and for a second time Fales responded to find the group complying with her earlier request to move inside or out front.
About 12:30 a.m., BUPD received a third call, from the fraternity saying three individuals Rand, Van Auken and Ruckriegel refused to leave the property.
Hall said several fraternity members asked the group to leave, but Van Auken told them she would not, and that she had called university officials and Peoria police to the scene.
Police reports say when Fales arrived on the scene after receiving Sigma Nu’s trespassing complaint, Van Auken poked her in the shoulder, used foul language and accused BUPD officers of not doing their jobs.
She then told Fales she called the “real,” or Peoria, police.
Van Auken allegedly told Peoria police officers she would not leave the property until Sigma Nu received a ticket, Hall said. Peoria police cited Sigma Nu President Caleb Matheny for a noise violation, which he is fighting in court.
“A person who did not break the law was the only one cited,” Hall said.
Matheny said his best guess as to why Sigma Nu was targeted by the three instead of any other greek house is because of the house’s location. He also said no one in the fraternity has heard from Van Auken, Rand or Ruckriegel since the incident.
Assistant Vice President for Communications Shelley Epstein said Bradley wasn’t a party of the law suit, and didn’t know the suit was being filed, but declined to comment further.
Van Auken could not be reached for comment at press time.
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