KDR Whistle Blower Files Complaint Against Penn State
James Vivenzio, the former Kappa Delta Rho brother who brought the Facebook page to the police’s attention, held a press conference today to announce a slew of legal complaints in the aftermath of the KDR scandal. His press conference coincided with the announcement that 38 members were suspended from the national organization and the rest were placed on alumni status. Susan Snyder, with The Philadelphia Inquirer, live-tweeted the press conference.
Vivenzio filed a complaint against the university, the Penn State chapter of KDR, the national organization, and Penn State’s IFC and Panhellenic Association. According to his lawyer, Vivenzio reported the wrongdoing in April of 2014 and met with a senior investigator from Penn State’s Office of Student Conduct, but the university “dragged its feet” in following up with an investigation. Because of this, Vivenzio went to State College police in January, noting at the press conference today, “I was afraid somebody could die.”
The complaint outlines the atrocious actions allegedly committed by the fraternity, the struggles and hardships Vivenzio has experienced because of them, and the charges being filed against the defendants listed above. According to the complaint, Vivenzio and other KDR pledges were allegedly subject to “violent hazing.” The instances outlined in the complaint include:
- Forced “line ups,” during which pledges were called to line up in the basement of the fraternity house, often in the middle of the night, and then to perform a number of “ritual” activities, including: drinking large quantities of liquor while performing wall sits and push ups until passing out; force-fed drinking from a bucket filled with a concoction of hot sauce, liquor, cat food, urine, and other liquid and semi-solid ingredients, the smell of which was often enough to induce vomiting.
- Physical battery
- Cigarette burns to the chest
- Forced consumption of large quantities of hard liquor … until vomiting was induced.
- “Gladiator” games, such as pledge tackle football without pads, that subjected the fraternity recruits to significant physical injuries.
- Confiscation of cafeteria food-plan funds, worth several thousands of dollars, to pay for fraternity parties, liquor, food, cigarettes, blunts, and condoms. All pledges were required to have cigarettes, blunts, and condoms in their possession at all times in case an older KDR member requested these items.
- Work as guards at the entrance to the fraternity during parties, sometimes four or five nights a week, in case a member from the Penn State IFC came and then to warn the members inside so that liquor could be stashed until the IFC left.
It is noted in the complaint that the fraternity “operated much like a gang.” Despite the anti-hazing polices in place by the university and Kappa Delta Rho, the members were, according to the complaint, taught a “bro code,” implying that what happened in the house, stayed in the house.
His lawyer showed screenshots outlining hazing and drinking in group messages. According to the complaint, these messages were utilized by other members of the fraternity to organize and communicate work assignments as well as to berate pledges with derogatory language and explicit photos.
Vivenzio’s lawyer showed screenshots specifically related to hazing. (Photo: Susan Snyder/Philadelphia Inquirer)
Vivenzio’s lawyer said he is suffering from post traumatic stress and is no longer in school. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the injuries and losses that include PTSD, anxiety, alcohol abuse, loss of academic opportunity, financial loses, and medical and out-of-pocket costs.
The criminal and misdemeanor charges against Vivenzio from August of 2014 were dropped, according to court documents. In the complaint, which was officially filed early this morning, Vivenzio is pressing charges of negligence, battery, unlawful furnishing of alcohol to a minor, furnishing liquor to one obviously intoxicated, false imprisonment, fraud, and conversion. The eight charges are all being filed against each of the defendants.
The university investigation unveiled troubling evidence against KDR, including, “sexual harassment and misconduct; hazing activities, such as forcing pledges to run errands, clean the fraternity house, and participate in boxing matches; and [forcing] pledges to ‘plank with bottle caps on their elbows.’ This means they were forced to hold up their body weight on their arms with bottle caps placed underneath.”
This new information alleging a delay in due process does not bode well for the impeding review of the Greek System.