Hazing News

Kappa Update from Diverse with link

From Diverse Online

Current News
Historic Kappa Felony Hazing Case Produces Civil Suit
By Paul Ruffins
Oct 7, 2007, 23:06

The criminal trial involving Kappas from Florida A&M University that produced the nation’s first felony convictions for hazing will now be followed by a civil trial. The victim, Marcus Jones, is suing the same five fraternity members named in the criminal case. The national,regional and local chapters of the Kappa Alpha Psi  Fraternity also face a potentially multi-million dollar liability.

Local newspapers mistakenly reported that Jones was only seeking $15,000. But Jones’s attorney, Dawn Whitehurst, explained that she and Jones just stated that figure to ensure that the case is not tried on small claims court. “We intend to seek much larger  damages than that,” she said, noting that in 2004 a FAMU band member who was hazed won a  judgment of  $1.8 million.

“Now that time has gone by, it’s clear that Marcus is suffering from a lot more than just what happened on line,” Whitehurst said.  “He had to withdraw from school and forfeited his scholarship. He lost many of his college friends and he will never reach his dream of graduating from FAMU or becoming a member of the fraternity.” Jones had to leave campus and is receiving psychotherapy for anxiety and depression.

Both sides have declared that the civil case will be much different  than the criminal trial.  “Now Marcus’ consent will be an issue,” says Chuck Hobbs, who defended the frat brothers in the criminal case and will now represent the three who are not in prison. “Florida law, like many jurisdictions, utilizes a ‘Comparative Negligence’ standard which requires that a jury consider what role the plaintiff may have had in causing his or her injuries.

“A jury will have to consider the fact that,” Hobbs says. “Mr. Jones broke his written promise not to meet outside of the presence of an advisor, not to participate in any hazing activities, and that he was not under duress, meaning that he was not forced to submit to any caning, or paddling.”

Dr. Walter Kimbrough, a leading researcher on Black fraternity hazing, says that Hobbs is completely wrong about Marcus being under duress. He notes that “the entire pledge process is deliberately designed to brainwash pledges and put them under tremendous psychological pressure to conform to what the group wants them to do. That’s why pledges are nearly always blindfolded and beaten, never told the truth about when the process will actually be over, and punished as a group if one person fails or resists.”

Several Kappa officials refused to comment. However, one national officer who asked not to be identified predicted a quiet out-of-court settlement. “We’re between a rock and a hard place,” he said, “If we lose, Kappa pays big dollars. If we win this time, it sends the message that hazing is OK because some pledge consented. I’m glad Florida made hazing a felony. Maybe the sight of those two FAMU brothers being taken to prison in handcuffs will finally change some minds about this.”

–Associated Press

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.