UI student suing FIJI gets expanded defendant list ahead of July trial

The trial, stemming from a reported sexual assault in September 2020, has been set for July 11 at the Johnson County Courthouse.


Grace Smith

People protest during the third night of protests following sexual assault allegations against the University of Iowa’s chapter of Phi Gamma Delta at the chapter structure on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

Alejandro Rojas, News Reporter

Editor’s note: This article contains references to and descriptions of sexual assault.

The University of Iowa student who is suing former members of the university’s Phi Gamma Delta, known as FIJI, over a reported sexual assault changed the number of defendants in January from four to six. 

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 26, 2021, alleges that UI student Makéna Solberg was sexually assaulted by two fraternity members while attending a party at the FIJI house in September 2020. The jury trial is set for July 11 at the Johnson County Courthouse.

Despite pushback from attorneys for the fraternities, District Court Judge Kevin McKeever allowed for the increased number of defendants.

Mu Deuteron Chapter House Corp. and Mu Deuteron Association of Phi Gamma Delta were added to the list of defendants, according to court documents filed on Feb. 25. 

When news of the alleged assault became public in August 2021, protests near the University of Iowa campus broke out in response to calls for Phi Gamma Delta to be removed. The protestors caused damage to the house when some individuals broke windows, broke down a door, sprayed painted the house, and overturned cars.

Solberg’s lawsuit names former UI students Carson Steffen and Jacob Meloan as defendants, who allegedly assaulted Solberg. 

Court documents report the two men engaged in sexual activity with Solberg without her consent, saying Steffen and Meloan assaulted Solberg while she was in an intoxicated, physically impaired, and physically vulnerable state. 

The lawsuit seeks compensation for damages and punitive damages toward the defendants. The damages listed in the filings include the following: 

  • Past mental and physical pain and suffering; 
  • Future mental and physical pain and suffering; 
  • Past and future loss of full mind and body
  • Loss of future earning capacity 
  • Past and future medical expenses

It is also reported that the men recorded the incident without Solberg’s consent and that the men shared videos and photographs of the assault with other members of the fraternity using a group chat.

Court documents said other members of the fraternity told members to delete the recordings and not to report the incident. The documents further allege the fraternity “aided and abetted” the two men by instructing fraternity members to delete evidence, instruct solidarity in silence to its members, and “frustrated investigation into the sexual assault.”