AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two men have been arrested for sexual assaults that occurred near the University of Texas at Austin’s campus in August 2020.
Benjamin Berkowitz, 22, and Andres Aiza, 21, were charged with aggravated sexual assault on Friday, May 13, according to an affidavit. Travis County Sheriff’s Office records show the two were booked into jail Monday afternoon.
According to the police report, the two men offered to walk two female UT students home from a fraternity party the night of Aug. 27, 2020.
According to the affidavit, the suspects made multiple advances toward each of the victims. “She described him as aggressive, forceful and was not responding when she pushed him away,” the affidavit states, referring to Berkowitz.
Both victims stated they made multiple attempts to say no to each of the suspects, but both men continued the assault.
One of the victims was finally able to free herself from the locked room and ran into the other room screaming.
The victims’ roommates heard the screaming and called 911.
Officers responded to the call in the early morning hours of Aug. 28, 2020.
A SAFE kit was provided to both victims in the days following. DNA swabs were then sent to a lab, and in October 2021, sperm results showed “very strong support” match to both Aiza and Berkowitz’s DNA.
According to our previous reporting, the girls who reported the assaults stated both men were members of Texas Rho. A group at the Texas Rho house told KXAN Monday both men were removed as members immediately after the incident.
Texas Rho is a remnant of the former UT Austin chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which was shut down by the university in 2017 for hazing violations. While the fraternity lost its charter and disassociated from its national organization, former members of SAE formed Texas Rho and now unofficially operate as a prominent social club from SAE’s former property.
The incident at the time added fuel to a petition to get the unofficial fraternity completely shut down.
A Texas Rho member told KXAN Monday afternoon SAE had granted its application to become an affiliated chapter again, although SAE’s national representatives have not returned KXAN’s request to confirm that decision.
When KXAN asked the Austin Police Department why it took so long for the DNA results to come back, and why it took seven more months to make the arrests after the results were available, APD issued this statement:
“Every investigation is different with a separate set of circumstances. It would be premature to discuss specific aspects of this case due to it being an active investigation.”APD spokesperson
KXAN also asked UT Austin if it could confirm Berkowitz and Aiza were enrolled as students at the time.
UT responded, stating, “These two individuals are not currently students. Due to FERPA we are unable to provide further details on this matter.”