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Virginia State students face charges

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Story on Phi Beta Sigma follows:

By Mark Bowes

Published: April 25, 2009

Six Virginia State University students and two other men have been charged in a fraternity hazing incident that left a VSU student hospitalized with extreme bruising.

Matthew E. Brown, 20; Christopher D. Cannaday, 21; Wayne L. Bowser Jr., 21; Isaac A. Montgomery, 26; Jaramis R. Whitaker, 24; and Maurice L. Brown, 30, were charged with one count each of hazing, a misdemeanor.

All six were identified as VSU students and either members of, or inductees to, the VSU chapter of Phi Beta Sigma, which has been suspended as a result of the alleged hazing.

In addition, Richard E. Roman, 27, and Maurice C. Hutton, 27, were charged with one count each of malicious wounding, a felony. Roman and Hutton are not students.

The arrests are the result of a VSU police investigation into the Jan. 3 incident, which occurred off-campus in Petersburg.

The victim, identified only as a junior from Chesapeake, suffered extreme bruising that led to additional medical complications, VSU spokeswoman Osita Iroegbu said. He was a pledge of the fraternity.

“The injuries the student sustained were serious enough to require him to be referred by the University Health Center to Southside Regional Medical Center, where he underwent surgery,” Iroegbu said.

The victim, who lived on the Ettrick campus, apparently didn’t seek treatment at the campus medical center until the week of Feb. 8.

Details about the incident and where it occurred in Petersburg were not immediately available. VSU Police Chief Michael Wallace didn’t return phone calls for comment.

Phi Beta Sigma remains under suspension and cannot conduct meetings or hold events until a university investigation is complete, Iroegbu said.

The eight suspects are scheduled to appear June 19 for a preliminary hearing in Petersburg General District Court.

“This type of behavior is unacceptable at VSU, and those who involve themselves in such appalling behavior will be subjected to the full extent of the judicial process,” Iroegbu said. “The university is working closely with the Petersburg authorities on this investigation.”

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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