UI fraternity rape lawsuit trial moved to Tama County

TOLEDO — A high-profile lawsuit filed by a woman accusing two former University of Iowa FIJI fraternity members of rape will be heard and decided in Tama County due to excessive pretrial publicity in Johnson County, a judge has ruled.

The plaintiff, Makena Solberg, alleges that the defendants, Carson Steffen and Jacob Meloan, raped her while she was intoxicated during a fraternity party in 2020, took pictures of her without her knowledge or consent and shared them widely. The defendants have admitted to having sex with Solberg but maintain that it was consensual, and they have both filed defamation countersuits against her.

According to Tama County Attorney Brent Heeren, the judge will come from Johnson County, but of course, a jury of Tama County residents will ultimately decide the outcome of the case. He added that courtroom security protocols can vary — sometimes the transferring county provides it, sometimes the local sheriff provides it and sometimes both.

The trial is currently set to begin in November of 2024.