Family Files Lawsuit Against Penn State, Phi Sigma Kappa For Negligence Prior To Son’s Suicide
More than a year after the Penn State Altoona fraternity Phi Sigma Kappa was suspended for hazing that may have contributed to a member’s suicide, the victim’s father is now suing Penn State and Phi Sigma Kappa, as first reported by Reuters.
Marquise Braham, an 18-year old student at Penn State Altoona at the time of his death, jumped off the roof of the Marriott Long Island Hotel last year. After the events, his family found disturbing pictures and conversations from the fraternity Braham was pledging. In believing the hazing contributed to his son’s death, Braham’s father, Rich Braham, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Penn State, Phi Sigma Kappa, two advisers, and two fraternity leaders.
“In my family’s opinion, both Penn State and Phi Sigma Kappa severely damaged our son, both physically and mentally, with hazing activities, and even worse, sought to allegedly cover it up by destroying evidence,” Braham said in a statement.
According to the lawsuit, Braham and his pledge class were forced to “consume gross amounts of alcohol” and mouthwash, swallow live fish, kill, gut, and skin squirrels, and choose between snorting a line of cocaine or being sodomized on video. The pledge class was also forced to fight each other while sleep deprived for 89 hours and held at gunpoint.
Braham was not only impacted by his own hazing, however. As a new member of the fraternity, Braham and his pledge class had to watch the next class be hazed, something he admitted to a friend was “hard to watch,” according to the lawsuit. The suit also said that Braham went to Catholic confession a few hours before his death to “confess his fraternity’s sins.”
The lawsuit alleges that Penn State knew Braham was suffering but decided to ignore the situation. Braham’s father also claimed in the lawsuit that two of his son’s advisers were made aware of his hazing-induced breakdown prior to his suicide.
“Our allegations, based on strong investigative research and evidence we have uncovered, are that Marquise’s resident assistant and resident director in his dormitory, both employees of Penn State University, knew he was in desperate trouble,” said Mike Paul, a spokesman for the Braham family.
The lawsuit hopes to make gains for students attending all colleges and universities across the country.
“We aim to hold Penn State, and hopefully other universities, accountable to provide accurate information to students and their parents about the dangerous misconduct they know is occurring within Greek life on campus,” Rich Braham said. “That would be an incredible and fitting legacy to Marquise.”