Monday, November 26, 2007

Sigma Tau Gamma Cleared in Hazing Case

National Fraternity Cleared in '04 Hazing

As reported by The Banner News

A judge has ruled that Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity at Southern Arkansas University weren’t responsible for the 2004 hazing beating of pledge Phillip Tyler “Ty” Keith.

Arkansas District Circuit Judge David Guthrie said the national fraternity had no control over the actions of members of the fraternity’s Delta Iota chapter at SAU.

Keith, 22, died on Jan. 1 of this year when he was struck by a train, but his parents continued a civil lawsuit against the fraternity. In the suit the Keiths asked for compensatory damages for injuries their son received in the hazing incident and punitive damages for pain, suffering and mental anguish.

Despite a national fraternity policy against hazing and prior expulsion from SAU because of hazing, 14 members of the Delta Iota chapter paddled Keith and other fraternity pledges during April 16, 2004, initiation rites. As a result Keith was seriously injured.

“One of the pledges, Ty Keith, was paddled repeatedly and with such force and severity that he sustained serious injuries to his buttocks and kidneys. He was hospitalized for 11 days and had kidney dialysis,” according to state findings in Guthrie’s summary judgment.

Since a settlement was reached between Keith and chapter members in April 2006, the Keith family has exhausted its civil court options. Settlement terms weren’t disclosed. The chapter was suspended from SAU for a minimum of five years.

Court documents reported that Keith was taken to the fraternity house in Magnolia, where he was blindfolded and received more than 200 “licks” from a paddle. Keith also required skingraft surgeries as a result of the beating.

The national fraternity and SAU have policies prohibiting the use of hazing as a part of the initiation of new members. According to Guthrie’s findings, filed earlier this month, chapters receive guidance from the national fraternity through materials, workshops and annual visits from a representative.

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