Tuesday, May 15, 2007

USC Phi Beta Sigma Pledge Sues for Hazing

Man sues fraternity in beating case
By Schuyler Kropf

A former University of South Carolina fraternity pledge who said he was beaten and hazed so badly that he needed to go to a hospital, is suing the fraternity and the members he says are responsible.

Terry Lyvotte Hall Jr., 20, of Summerville, filed suit in state court in Charleston last week.

Hall contends members of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity took him to a private residence near West Columbia on Oct. 9 for an initiation rite.

He was put in a line of pledges and injured with "baseball bats, belts, shoes, paddles, fists, hands, pots, pans," the suit says.

Additionally, he says he was kicked, slapped, choked and struck, all in violation of the state's anti-hazing laws.

The suit names the fraternity, the Kappa Iota Chapter at USC, and the university. It seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages against all the players, except for USC, which is protected from punitive damages under state law.

Hall's lawyer, Gary A. Ling, said that as a result of the beating and subsequent threats, Hall dropped out of USC and transferred to a college in Atlanta.

Ling questioned whether USC and the fraternity monitor what happens during such initiation rites. "It's upsetting to me about what the university actually does to make sure the fraternities are complying with state law," he said Monday.

USC spokesman Russ McKinney hadn't seen the suit but said the university has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing.

He noted that the alleged hazing was done off-campus and that the fraternity has been suspended indefinitely by the school since October and by the national chapter.

Last month, Lexington County Sheriff James Metts said detectives arrested and charged seven USC students, including one from North Charleston, with hazing in connection with the event. The violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in prison and a $500 fine.

After the alleged beating, a fraternity member drove Hall home because he was unable to drive, according to earlier reports. He contacted his uncle and asked for a ride to Richland Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released. The beating didn't stop, Hall said earlier, until he was gasping for air and his nose was bleeding.

Hall did not suffer any broken bones but did have visible bruises on several areas of his body, including the upper arms, chest, feet, back and buttocks, according to a police incident report.