Penn State

Penn State fraternities have had prior brushes with the law

The Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Penn State is facing an investigation into a secret Facebook page the fraternity allegedly created that featured photos of nude, unconscious women. But, it’s not the only fraternity that’s had legal troubles. Several others on campus have been cited for underage drinking, among other things.
The Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Penn State is facing an investigation into a secret Facebook page the fraternity allegedly created that featured photos of nude, unconscious women. But, it’s not the only fraternity that’s had legal troubles. Several others on campus have been cited for underage drinking, among other things. CDT photo

Protests build and the investigation continues around the secret Facebook page where the Penn State chapter of Kappa Delta Rho allegedly shared pictures of possible criminal activity, including hazing, drugs and unknowing victims.

But how does this stack up to past Greek groups’ transgressions at Penn State?

In October, Delta Sigma Phi was charged with two misdemeanor counts of furnishing liquor to minors and two more of furnishing liquor, malt or brewed beverages to certain persons.

The brothers entered a guilty plea in January to one count of each offense. Centre County President Judge Thomas King Kistler delivered a sentence of $2,500 fine and 50 days of community service for each count.

The fraternity was familiar with the charges. It pleaded guilty to serving minors in April 2010. It got a $500 fine and 27 days that time.

But two Acacia brothers made headlines after a hateful prank in 2013.

Hayden Grom and Eric Hyland were charged with ethnic intimidation and criminal mischief after spray-painting swastikas and other anti-Semitic language and sexual words and pictures at the largely Jewish fraternity Beta Sigma Beta.

According to Grom’s attorney, his client’s blood-alcohol level was 0.25 at the time of the vandalism and he didn’t understand what he was doing.

The pair got two years of probation each, plus thousands of dollars in restitution.

The victims in the case have had their own issues over the years. Beta Sigma Beta has faced charges of furnishing alcohol seven times between 2002 and 2011.

In September, Lambda Chi Alpha was charged when three underage women reported being served beer and vodka at a November 2013 party. One of the women was found by police outside the fraternity at 351 E. Fairmount Ave.

Judge Jonathan D. Grine took their guilty plea and delivered a $500 fine and a day of community service for each of the 88 brothers.

That should also have been familiar. The fraternity got a $500 fine for each of two other counts of serving minors in 2005. A single community service day was required by Judge Bradley P. Lunsford.

A beach-themed party went awry in April when two Phi Kappa Theta brothers decided to light “streamers” of gasoline on fire in the basement, then douse them with sand.

The game got away from them when a couch caught fire. State College police said a catastrophe was prevented by sprinklers and fire extinguishers.

The fraternity was not charged in that case. Phi Kappa Theta has faced furnishing alcohol charges six times over a span of eight years. The last time, in 2011, netted a $500 fine and 26 days of community service.

Delta Upsilon was charged after a sexual assault reported by a female student who attended two parties at the 229 Locust Lane house.

After investigating, police charged the fraternity with criminal counts of furnishing alcohol and unlawful acts relative to liquor. Police reported freshman girls were given free beer and brothers poured vodka into their open mouths.

The fraternity was fined and placed on social probation by the Interfraternity Council. Grine handed down a $500 fine and 160 hours of community service, one for each member.

In 2005, Judge David E. Grine placed the fraternity on probation and levied a $500 fine for another serving minors offense.

Phi Gamma Delta and Alpha Tau Omega were both charged with alcohol offenses after the 2009 death of freshman Joseph Dado, who died in a concrete stairwell after a 15-foot fall. His body prompted a two-day search before maintenance staff found him.

The two fraternities were suspended by the IFC for giving Dado alcohol. The court gave Phi Gamma Delta a $100 fine. Alpha Tau Omega was penalized with $500 fine and 70 days of community service.

In 2004, Alpha Tau Omega had received a $988 fine for an alcohol charge.

Problems aren’t limited to drinking. Hazing, which is illegal in Pennsylvania, is also an issue.

At Penn State Altoona, Phi Sigma Kappa lost its privileges of recognition for six years. The university’s decision was announced in October after the death last March of Marquise Braham.

Braham committed suicide after allegedly being hazed.

“We will do everything that we can in terms of educational training and monitoring of behaviors to ensure that hazing never occurs on this campus again,” the university said in a statement in October.

In 2013, Bianca Jeanty and Felicia Ragsdale, members of Omega Essence, a little sisters group to Omega Psi Phi, were sentenced to probation after hazing turned into the brutal beating of a pledge. An OPP brother, Hanif Johnson, was found not guilty of more severe counts of simple assault and conspiracy but convicted of harassment.

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