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Phi Kappa Psi Sued (corrected copy) : Slashing allegedly linked to hazing commands

Link to Creighton University and Samuel Wheeler. Excerpt below:

 

It’s February 2017. Christopher Wheeler breaks into a young woman’s dorm room on the Creighton University campus, then slashes her throat with a knife.

Wheeler was pledging with Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. During the criminal case, Wheeler and his attorney argued that night he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs and was hazed.

Wheeler spoke with KETV Newswatch 7 following his arrest.

“Big shock when I heard what I did,” he said, “Disgusted with myself. I just wanted to apologize to Teresa and also apologize to the university.”

Wheeler was eventually sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Creighton banned the fraternity from campus until 2025.

The victim in that stabbing case is now suing the national Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, a Nebraska Phi Kappa Psi foundation and an alumni group and some former fraternity officers in the Creighton chapter. Wheeler is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit shows Creighton had already placed the fraternity on “social probation” at the time of the assault, following an investigation in 2016.

According to the suit, the chapter had come under investigation “as a result of an anonymous complaint of hazing and underage drinking activities by Phi Psi.”

The suit goes on to say that probation “included an order that Phi Psi conduct a completely alcohol-free ‘Rush’ in 2017, also known as a ‘Dry Rush'”

The lawsuit said, “Despite all these warnings and restrictions, Phi Psi conducted ‘Rush’ in 2017 with multiple occasions of forced drinking…and encouraging alcohol consumption by potential new members to the point of vomiting and/or blacking out.”

On the night of the incident, the lawsuit said, “Wheeler is encouraged to consume alcoholic liquors as part of the pledge process”, and the fraternity president “provides at least two beers to Wheeler.”

It also alleges one or more of the Phi Kappa Psi defendants in the president’s room “produces a water bong used for smoking marijuana” and “Wheeler is encouraged to smoke.”

Again, Wheeler is not listed as a defendant in this lawsuit.

During the criminal proceedings, a judge ordered Wheeler’s defense could not make the claim that his actions were involuntary and the result of hazing.

The lawsuit argues that, “Had Phi Psi and the National Fraternity acted reasonably to address the ongoing hazing, excessive drinking, underage drinking and other misconduct at Phi Psi, (the victim) would not have been violently attacked.”

The national Phi Kappa Psi organization responded to KETV Newswatch 7 inquiries and said, “We are aware of the lawsuit that has been filed but have not yet been served. We cannot comment on pending litigation.”

 

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--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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