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University Cracks Down on Fraternity Named in Rape

April 22, 1988

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Outraged Florida State University officials suspended Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity Friday after a grand jury said an intoxicated, 18-year-old woman student was raped at the fraternity house and the group’s members refused to cooperate with the investigation.

The young woman was found March 5 with ″crude words″ and a fraternity symbol written on her thigh, a Leon County grand jury said Thursday in an interim report.

She had been raped by more than one person, her clothing was in disarray, she had suffered multiple scratches and abrasions, and she was so drunk that her life was in danger, the report said.

″We informed Pi Kappa Alpha they are suspended immediately pending a formal hearing which will begin next Wednesday,″ Dean of Students James Hayes said Friday. ″They are no longer a registered student organization at FSU. They lose all rights and privileges.‴

The incident marked the second time in a week the fraternity was suspended on a Florida campus. The Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at Stetson University in Deland was suspended April 15 in the wake of reports of a similar incident.

Stetson Dean of Student Affairs Garth Jenkins has said a young woman reported she was sexually assaulted by more than one man during a fraternity party April 9. He also said he heard reports that other people watched the alleged assault.

The executive vice president of the Memphis, Tenn.-based national fraternity, Ray Orians, said there were roughly 130 fraternity members at Florida State and 70 at Stetson. Investigators for the national organization visted both campuses this week, he said.

″We’re looking at this (Florida State incident), at this point, as an individual incident involving an individual member that had nothing to do with the chapter,″ he said.

″In the Stetson case, we do know there was some violations of school rules, separate and apart from any sexual allegations,″ said Orians. Stetson is a Baptist university.

Hayes said Florida State officials were sickened over police information and the grand jury’s interim report on the incident there. No individuals have been charged, but the investigation was continuing.

″When you have 25,000 students, you have disciplinary problems, but a situation like this hasn’t happened in my nine years here,″ said Hayes.

The president of the fraternity, Brant Byrd of Bellair, told the Florida Flambeau, a student newspaper, that he was advised not to talk in public about the incident.

″My comment is that I’m very involved with final exams and exam week and my attorney told me not to concentrate on the grand jury but to concentrate on final exams,″ the Flambeau reported Friday.

The panel’s report criticized the fraternity for not cooperating and urged witnesses to step forward.

″Possible witnesses have a civic and moral duty to come forward and report what they have seen or what they have heard from or about the perpetrators of this sordid incident,″ the grand jury stated.

The 18-year-old Florida State University student was found raped and ″intoxicated to a life-threatening degree″ early on March 5, the grand jury said.

The victim was found on the floor of the Theta Chi fraternity house, about a block from the Pi Kappa Alpha house, at about 5:30 a.m. and taken to a hospital for treatment and an examination.

The grand jury said members of Theta Chi and of Sigma Chi fraternity, where the victim said she had visited earlier, were cooperative. Campus police determined members of those two organizations were not involved and knew nothing about the victim or the crime.

By contrast, Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members were uncooperative and evasive, the grand jury said.

The victim told authorities she had met a Pi Kappa Alpha member at a club, where she had been drinking beer and tequila. She said he took her to his fraternity house, giving her a bottle of wine, which she consumed.

″She alleges her host then sexually assaulted her, and she passed out from intoxication,″ wrote the grand jury.

A medical examination revealed that the victim had a 0.349 blood-alcohol level, more than three times the legal limit for driving, and had been raped by more than one person, according to the grand jury report.

″She was comatose,″ said police Lt. Jack Handley, adding that sexual intercourse had occurred during the time she was unconscious. ″She was in a life-threatening situation.″

Handley declined to give details on the words or the symbol written on the woman’s thigh, except to say it was a fraternity symbol but not the symbol of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

The woman was released from the hospital March 6. Hayes said she has been receiving counseling. The drinking age in Florida is 21.

Meanwhile, fraternity and sorority pledging was suspended on the State University of New York at Albany on Friday after a student was electrocuted when he waded into a pond during an apparent fraternity stunt.

Bryan Higgins, 20, a sophomore from Mahopac, N.Y., died after he walked into the pond wearing only his underwear around 6:15 p.m. Thursday.

Albany County District Attorney Sol Greenburg said the death appeared accidental and the incident appeared to be a non-violent hazing. Two other students were injured by the electric current in the concrete-lined pond.

The reason the pond had current running through it was not immediately determined. The current disappeared when switches to electrical circuits near the pond were turned off Thursday night, officials said.

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