Crime

Penn State fraternity facing criminal charges

The Penn State chapter of Delta Tau Delta, 429 East Hamilton Street in State College, was charged Monday with furnishing alcohol to minors. The charges stem from an incident in which a male student was found unconscious in a downtown alley.
The Penn State chapter of Delta Tau Delta, 429 East Hamilton Street in State College, was charged Monday with furnishing alcohol to minors. The charges stem from an incident in which a male student was found unconscious in a downtown alley. Centre Daily Times, file

Penn State says it is serious about cracking down on bad behavior in its fraternities.

The police are, too.

On Monday, two misdemeanor counts each of selling and furnishing liquor to a minor and furnishing liquor to certain persons were filed against Delta Tau Delta.

The charges come three weeks after Penn State suspended the chapter following the hospitalization of a student.

That incident is at the heart of the police complaint.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, State College police responded at 1:37 a.m. Sept. 29 to the 300 block of East Calder Way for a report of an unconscious person lying in the street.

That person was a male Penn State student who police said was “unconscious but breathing,” with a laceration on his left leg that witnesses said came when he tried to jump a fence and fell. Downtown cameras confirmed this, according to court documents.

Police say medical records show the student was intoxicated, and that interviews with the student and his roommate showed them both to be 18, and both admitted they were drinking alcohol at Delta Tau Delta.

This is not unfamiliar territory for the fraternity.

Delta Tau Delta was charged with similar charges in 2005, 2007 and 2009, receiving a $1,000 fine each time. In two cases, the fraternity also received a six-month probation sentence from the court. In all three cases, they were also directed to do community service.

Delta Tau Delta is just the most recent fraternity to face criminal charges and university discipline in a year that started with the death of Beta Theta Pi pledge Timothy Piazza, 19, in February. According to the university’s “community score card” — a yardstick for the Greek groups’ grades, violations and other stats — it has 112 active members and 11 new members, and until its suspension, had no current alcohol violations.

The score card is one of the new measures Penn State put in place after Piazza’s death, along with removing fraternity discipline from the peer organizations that oversee them.

Delta Tau Delta is a part of the Interfraternity Council, as was Beta Theta Pi until Penn State permanently banned it in March.

Three other fraternities have been suspended since then. Penn State suspended Sigma Alpha Mu on April 20 for two years for “violation of expectations.”

The IFC suspended Phi Mu Delta for a year on July 10 for hazing. Seven days later, the IFC suspended Alpha Chi Rho for a year for the same offense.

Those aren’t the only fraternities out of commission. Pi Kappa Phi was suspended for three years for hazing in April 2015. Phi Kappa Tau got the same sentence a month later. Both of those rulings came from the IFC. Penn State gave Kappa Delta Rho a three year suspension for hazing and policy infractions in May 2015 after information came to light about a secret Facebook page detailing bad behavior.

The national headquarters suspended Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity in April 2016 for three years for hazing. Alpha Phi Alpha is a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

One sorority, Sigma Lambda Gamma, is serving a five-year loss of recognition for hazing, delivered by its ruling body, the Multicultural Greek Council, in April 2015.

None of the sororities of the Panhellenic Association are listed as under discipline on the university’s score card.

“We are being aggressive and we are being persistent, but we can’t do this alone. It is our hope that by working with students, their parents, alumni and others, we can achieve a productive and contributing community for our students. But above all, our primary focus remains clear: Safety comes first,” Penn State President Eric Barron said on Oct. 13.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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