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about 4 months ago

Two Arrested in Connection With Beta Sigma Beta Vandalism

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After a month-long investigation, two Penn State students have been charged with Ethnic Intimidation, Criminal Mischief, and Disorderly Conduct as a result of anti-semitic vandalism at the Beta Sigma Beta fraternity.

Eric Hyland and Hayden Grom, both sophomores, are accused of spray painting 12 cars, a dumpster, and a garage outside the predominantly Jewish fraternity with “sexual/graphic words, sexual images, swastikas, Anti-Semitic language/words, the initials “K.K.K.” and random scribbling,” according to State College Police. The police say that Hyland and Grom confessed to the vandalism in independent interviews conducted last week.

Police say that video surveillance footage as well as someone coming forward with information about Hyland and Grom are responsible for the charges. A trio of organizations — the Police Department, the Penn State IFC, and the Beta Sigma Beta Alumni Assocation — offered $5,000 aggregately to information that would lead to finding the culprits.

“The State College Police Department would like to thank the person who initially provided valuable information that significantly aided this investigation,” said a release signed by Police Chief Thomas King. “The police department was also assisted greatly by the Beta Sigma Beta Alumni Association, the active members of Beta Sigma Beta, and the leadership of the Penn State University Inter-fraternity Council. Without the assistance of all of these persons or organizations, this case would not have been solved.”

A preliminary hearing for the pair is scheduled for January 15 in Bellefonte.

“Our undergraduates and alumni are disgusted by the recent hate crimes committed against our property and our brothers’ cars,” said Jeff Licht, the President of the Beta Alumni Association, at the time. ”There should be no place for anti-semitism in our country, let alone potentially matriculating within our prestigious university or living in our beloved Happy Valley.”

Penn State also responded to the charges and identified the two students as members of Acacia, although they have since been expelled by the Acacia National Fraternity.

“It’s our understanding that these two individuals acted on their own and their behavior should not be interpreted as a reflection of Acacia and its members,” said Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz. “The information from the State College Police already has been forwarded to our Office of Student Conduct and the individuals charged will face a disciplinary hearing. Since a hearing has not yet occurred, I cannot tell you what sanctions may or may not be imposed, but rest assured that the University takes matters of both vandalism and hate speech in any form very seriously. This is an unfortunate and hurtful incident and we are glad that so many people were able to assist police in determining the individuals responsible. Hateful behavior in any form is not acceptable and perpetrators should be held accountable.”

UPDATE: We received this statement from the Penn State Acacia chapter earlier today:

Recently, the Penn State Chapter of Acacia Fraternity learned that two of its members had been involved in a November 8 vandalism incident outside the Beta Sigma Beta fraternity house. The two members have since been expelled from Acacia, and are being evicted from the chapter house.

Upon learning of this information, the chapter leadership took the steps to inform the necessary parties and work with the State College Police Department.  We believe that our efforts were instrumental in bringing these two individuals to justice and will continue to cooperate with the SCPD as needed.

The actions of these two individuals are contrary to the core values of Acacia and in no way represent the Penn State Chapter as a whole, nor any of the other 37 Acacia chapters and colonies across North America. The Chapter has been a pioneer in fostering diversity across religious, ethnic and racial lines, and the membership of today’s brotherhood proudly reflects this history.

And here’s more from Jeff Licht, president of the Beta Alumni Association:

On behalf of Beta Sigma Beta Alumni and our Undergraduates, we would like to thank the State College Police for their tireless efforts to identify the two culprits of this hate crime. In particular, we applaud the efforts of Chief King and Detective Bosak. A special note of appreciation to our brothers and sisters within the Penn State Interfraternity Council (IFC) and especially the brothers within Acacia that upheld their core values over their fraternal bond.

We, in addition to the Police, the University and the IFC, consider this act a hate crime and look forward to University officials sending the right message that individuals like this do not belong as students at our prestigious school of higher education. We also look forward to swift legal proceedings with severe penalties to send a powerful message that anti-semitic acts will no longer be tolerated here nor should they be tolerated anywhere. When Joe Paterno was honored by the Anti-Defamation League, he said, “In America, prejudice is foul play.”

Our great university is comprised of students from diverse backgrounds and faith. However, bigotry, prejudice and anti-semitism are beliefs of only the uninformed. We hope that this incident provides our University the opportunity to teach acceptance and respect for each and every student’s culture.

“When we stood at childhood’s gate, Shapeless in the hands of fate, Thou didst mold us Dear Old State, Dear Old State, Dear Old State.”

We hope this time our actions speak as loud as our words.

Downtown - Located in Centre County, Pennsylvania, State College is a college town heavily influenced by the campus life of Penn State University and have gained the nickname "Happy Valley" for its resilience during the Great Depression. They say there's something magical about the Nittany Valley, where time just seems to stand still. Read more