From KETV News
In a Superior Court complaint, Courtney Howard details how she and fellow San Jose State University students were roughed up while pledging the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority in late-2008. After Howard, 20, reported the hazing to police and university officials, she charges that sorority members began to harass and threaten her. Howard, pictured at right, subsequently left the school, and is now enrolled at the University of Southern California.
In her lawsuit, excerpted here, Howard noted that she had originally planned to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest African-American womenâ€™s sorority. But since the sororityâ€™s San Jose chapter has been suspended due to hazing activities, Howard opted to join Sigma Gamma Rho, believing that â€œthey represented the â€˜sisterhoodâ€™ she sought in a sorority.â€
However, Howard contends, that the groupâ€™s pledge process was far from sisterly. According to her complaint, she and fellow pledges were punched, slapped, kicked, slammed into walls, struck with a wooden spoon and a cane, and had books and coins thrown at them during a series of 16 nighttime initiation sessions. Howard recalled one evening when a sorority sister told her to close her eyes. She was then struck on the buttocks with what she later learned was a kitchen pot. The pledges were also frequently struck with a wooden paddle, Howard said, blows that left her with welts on her buttocks.
Howard reported that pledges were repeatedly warned not to talk with friends and family about the initiation process, since â€œsnitches get stitches.â€ They were also told that if they failed to participate in certain pledge activities, they would be â€œjumped out,â€ a gang term for a beating conducted by all members of the group.
Howardâ€™s complaint names as defendants San Jose State University, Sigma Gamma Rho, and various sorority members, including a quartet of women who, court records show, pleaded no contest earlier this year to misdemeanor hazing charges. The defendants–Princess Odom; Monique Hughes; Joslyn Beard; and Nicole Remble–were each sentenced to 90 days in jail, directed to serve two years of court probation, and barred from involvement with any sorority. Odom, Hughes, Beard, and Remble are pictured here, clockwise from upper left, in San Jose Police Department mug shots.