By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Southern Methodist University student sued a national sorority on Wednesday, saying it unlawfully copied and distributed a secretly made video showing sorority sisters dancing topless or in other states of undress at an event to welcome new members.
The student, identified only as "Jane Doe," who is a senior at the university in Dallas, said the Kappa Kappa Gamma national organization obtained the video of her and others and had not relinquished possession of it.
Kappa's national organization has not responded to requests for comment.
"This lawsuit is not simply about protecting Jane Doe. It is about protecting people's privacy," said Rogge Dunn, an attorney for the plaintiff.
The lawsuit said that national members of the sorority distributed copies to others. It seeks an accounting of where the video went and the original copy secured so it cannot be distributed further. Dunn said the plaintiff was also seeking at least $1 million in damages.
The ritual has been going on for about a decade and involved seniors in the Kappa chapter singing in various states of undress for freshmen who had just received bids to join the sorority, Dunn said.
Dunn described the event, which occurred in January, as a little bit of risqué fun in a private residence where the doors were locked, curtains shut, cellphones confiscated and two off-duty police officers posted outside to ensure the event remained private.
The lawsuit alleged that a national Kappa employee taped the seniors, some topless, dancing and singing for about five minutes.
SMU said in a statement it was not appropriate for it to comment on the claims because it was not a party to the suit.
The lawsuit accused Kappa of knowing about the ritual for years and trying to punish the students involved once it appeared the issue would be scandalous.
"Kappa knows of and even endorses many of Kappa's rituals and traditions that many people consider to be hazing," it said.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney)