01-17-2004, 05:25 PM
Eight indicted in fraternity hazing incident at SMU
1/17/2004 1:24 PM
By: Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) -- Eight men were indicted on felony assault charges in a fraternity-related hazing incident that seriously injured a Southern Methodist University student.
Dallas County District Attorney Bill Hill says prosecutors chose to pursue the felony charges rather than misdemeanor hazing charges because of the seriousness of the allegations -- and the injuries the victim suffered.
Filmon Berhe, Eric Bowie, Jason Harkey, Onyekachi Ibekwe, Uche Kalu, Raymond Lee III, Brandon Perry and Cornelius Smith Jr. face two to 20 years in prison if convicted of the second-degree felony aggravated assault charges. The Dallas Morning News reports that the men were indicted yesterday.
Braylon Curry, a pledge with Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, went into a coma in November after being forced to consume large amounts of water. Police say that at times, he and another pledge were physically struck and mentally harassed.
02-22-2004, 01:03 AM
4 SMU students involved in hazing incident are expelled
Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity permanently banned from campus
11:35 PM CST on Friday, February 20, 2004
By TOYA LYNN STEWART / The Dallas Morning News
Four students involved in a fraternity-related hazing incident that seriously injured another student were expelled Friday from Southern Methodist University.
Cornelius Smith, Brandon Perry-Russell, Ekbert Parker and Byron Sanders were expelled by an appellate board of the University Judicial Council for "hazing and assault, in violation of the Student Code of Conduct," according to a university statement.
Mr. Smith is a senior and the other three men are juniors.
The council also ruled that the fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, would be permanently banned from SMU. University officials said Friday that they weren't aware of any other fraternity that had ever been expelled from the campus.
"It was a difficult process for all involved," said Jim Caswell, vice president of student affairs at SMU. He added that the council's actions further emphasized that, "those responsible [for hazing incidents] will be held accountable."
A relative of Mr. Smith declined to comment Friday night, and the other expelled students and their families could not be reached for comment.
Officials for the fraternity chapter's national organization, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., could not be reached Friday, but previously said they had plans to revoke the charter of SMU's chapter.
The men expelled Friday were among 12 people at an off-campus apartment Nov. 15 when the hazing incident occurred. Braylon Curry and another SMU fraternity pledge were forced to drink hot sauce and gallons of water and were beaten with wooden paddles.
According to police reports and court testimony, Mr. Curry, a junior at SMU, went into a coma after consuming large amounts of water in a fraternity initiation ritual. After Mr. Curry lost consciousness, the men stood him up and forced him to drink more, authorities said. They also punched him in the stomach to make him vomit.
Mr. Curry suffered from pulmonary edema, a condition in which water enters the lungs, and hyponatremia, a sodium imbalance brought on by excess fluid consumption, doctors said.
The excess water lowered Mr. Curry's sodium level to the point that his cells could not function properly. If left untreated, his brain could have swelled, leading to death.
Mr. Curry also inhaled the vomited water and hot sauce into his lungs, lowering oxygen levels to his brain for four to six hours, making brain damage an initial concern. He was hospitalized for more than a week but made a full recovery.
Mr. Curry's father said his son told him a few weeks ago that the SMU students might be expelled.
"He's offered no exuberance or happiness at the possibility," said Bishop Curry III, a veterinarian at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. "There's nothing elating or no gloating. He's just trying to find his balance again."
Mr. Curry is living in Dallas again and is finishing his coursework from his fall semester classes. He is not currently attending classes, his father said.
"He's doing better," Dr. Curry said. "He's undergoing neuropsychological evaluations to help sort out what happened and his anxiety."
Dr. Curry said he thinks SMU made the right decision to expel the students.
"I always felt like the university needed to put its teeth in it," he said. "I think it certainly represents a harder line than to say, 'We don't condone hazing.'
"What the university is perhaps trying to say is you can look to not being a student here."
He added that even though he thinks the university's decision is just, he sympathizes with the parents of the men who were expelled.
"There wasn't a thimble worth of judgment in any of them. ... Braylon's fortunate that he gets another chance ... at life."
Before the men were expelled, they appeared before the Serious Offense Hearing Board, which consists of three students, a faculty member and a staff member. They later appealed their case through the Appellate Board, comprising two students, a faculty member and a staff member.
The Appellate Board upheld a Jan. 29 ruling to expel the four men. SMU President Gerald Turner reviewed the case and agreed with the expulsion.
Felony assault charges
Eight men – including Mr. Perry-Russell and Mr. Smith – have been indicted in connection with the hazing. Two others were present, authorities have said, but weren't charged.
Dallas County prosecutors are pursuing felony assault charges rather than misdemeanor hazing charges against the men because of the seriousness of the allegations and because of the injuries Mr. Curry suffered.
Mr. Perry-Russell and Mr. Smith along with Filmon Berhe, Eric Bowie, Jason Harkey, Onyekachi Ibekwe, Uche Kalu, Raymond Lee III face two to 20 years in prison if convicted of the second-degree felony aggravated assault charges.
Before permanently expelling the fraternity, SMU had suspended Alpha Phi Alpha from campus.
The national Alpha Phi Alpha organization has said that its guidelines strictly prohibit hazing as a term or condition of membership and that it forbids pledges from submitting to hazing to obtain membership.
Staff writer Michael Grabell contributed to this report.
SO SWEET DOVE
03-02-2004, 11:54 AM
It really is a shame and disgrace to the greek system. They deserve everything they have coming to them. It's unfortunate that it comes at the expense of innocent and prospective members.
03-02-2004, 01:29 PM
Originally posted by thetalady
[B]The national Alpha Phi Alpha organization has said that its guidelines strictly prohibit hazing as a term or condition of membership and that it forbids pledges from submitting to hazing to obtain membership.
The underlined piece of this is something I seldom think of and often overlook. It does not, however, relieve the actives and officers of any responsibility.
What it should mean to everyone is that hazing has no place in today's Greek System.
I agree that it is a terrible shame to see an organazation with the national stature of A Phi A to be permanantely banned from any campus.
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