A former Kappa Delta Rho brother who filed a lawsuit against the fraternity and Penn State last month is asking for documents from the university, the fraternity’s national chapter, and to return to the Prospect Avenue fraternity house as part of trial preparation.
Attorneys for James Vivenzio wrote in Tuesday court filings that he and his client are seeking access to records, to include emails and other communications, regarding any investigations of hazing at the fraternity conducted by the university, Penn State’s Interfraternity Council and Kappa Delta Rho’s national organization, to include the ones that led to sanctions earlier this year.
“We haven’t heard any of that and all of that is relevant to my client, to others and whether something should have been done much sooner,” Aaron Freiwald, Vivenzio’s attorney, said.
In May, Penn State suspended Kappa Delta Rho’s local chapter for three years and the fraternity’s national organization expelled 38 members of the Penn State chapter shortly before Vivenzio filed the suit.
Freiwald said he, his client and a team of forensics personnel also plan to go to the fraternity house in September. Freiwald declined to comment the type of forensics team that will go and what they will do, but he said he plans to take photographs and video of the interior of the house for use in a possible trial.
“We want to be able to document that, so we have something visual as well as verbal to communicate what the experience was like,” Freiwald said.
Vivenzio filed suit against Penn State, the university’s Interfraternity Council and Kappa Delta Rho’s national and local chapters in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in June, claiming that Vivenzio and other pledges at the house were burned with cigarettes, and subjected to “mentally abusive late-night line-ups that featured force-feeding bucketfuls of liquor mixed with urine, vomit, hot sauce” and more, gladiator-style games that led to “significant bodily injuries,” swilling hard liquor to the point of vomiting, and serving as forced labor at the chapter house and for older members.
Penn State is party to the suit because Vivenzio said that in April 2014, he met with a university investigator in his Virginia home and shared printouts of group texts and disclosed a Facebook page that depicted hazing, substance abuse and unconscious women in states of undress. Vivenzio maintains the university ignored his claims.
He later told State College police of the page in January and the police investigation of the page was made public in March.
The university disputed Vivenzio’s claims immediately after he filed the suit. Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said in June that Vivenzio did reach out to the university in April 2014, but he was unwilling to file a complaint, provide documentation or speak with police, despite repeated encouragement to do so from the university.
Powers denied that Vivenzio told university officials of the Facebook page and said they only learned of it when State College police informed them in February.
Powers said Thursday that counsel for the university had not yet seen the newest filings, that they stand by their previous statements and don’t plan to comment on the case in the future because the litigation is pending.