A grand jury indicted the fraternity at a Texas university in response to an alleged brutal, three-day hazing ritual that deprived pledges of sufficient food, water, and sleep plus forced them to roll around in vomit, spit, and feces.
On Thursday, a Harris County grand jury indicted the University of Houston chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity over the purportedly abusive treatment pledges endured during a hazing ordeal that occurred on November 17-20, 2016.
The indictment primarily focused on the alleged mistreatment of one pledge who, like others, was forced to roll around in vomit, spit, and feces, plus went without food, drink, and sleep during most of the hazing and was “weakened physically” plus “broken down mentally,” according to prosecutors. Among the cruel treatment, the pledge was told to run in a dark rural stretch of land while clutching a glow stick for a “green light game” where he was subjected to blindside tackles from fraternity members dressed in dark clothing. Later, that pledge was hospitalized.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office filed a Class B misdemeanor against the Tennessee-based Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity Inc., who calls its members Pikes, according to the DA’s office. This charge follows investigations by the Harris County DA’s office and the University of Houston, which suspended the fraternity from the campus until 2023 after the November 2016 hazing incident.
The indictment did not charge any individual criminally but subjects the fraternity to the misdemeanor which carries a fine up to $10,000 and makes the organization subject to conviction for hazing including mental and physical abuse.
“Brotherhood and collegiate good times should be safe and hazing is not,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg in a prepared statement. “It is also illegal and that should be recognized by the dozens of fraternities and sororities on college campuses all over the Houston area.”
Ogg applauded the University of Houston for its efforts to investigate and hold the fraternity to account in this situation. “The University of Houston showed resolve in conducting a thorough investigation and holding the fraternity accountable,” she said.
Thursday afternoon, the university released a statement:
In October, the University of Houston took administrative action to suspend the UH chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity for activities that violate the University hazing policy, which is consistent with the Texas Education Code. For the last several months, the UH Police Department has coordinated with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in investigating these activities, which revealed violations that occurred off campus. Today we are grateful that our county partners have delivered a stern message through the grand jury’s decision against the fraternity, that such behavior, which jeopardizes the well-being of our students, will not be tolerated. Our University takes pride in the camaraderie and well-rounded experience of our students, and for many that includes participating in fraternity and sorority life. We take seriously our responsibility to train our fraternities and sororities to adhere to University policy and laws against hazing and the need to conduct themselves in a safe manner.
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