Monday, May 18, 2009

Hazing at UNL Goes to Court

UNL Sigma Chi members in court in alleged hazing case
By MELISSA LEE / Lincoln Journal Star

Seven of the eight University of Nebraska-Lincoln Sigma Chi fraternity members who face charges related to alleged hazing pleaded not guilty Friday in Lancaster County Court.

The eighth, Keegan Anderson, 20, did not appear in court. Judge Jean Lovell moved Anderson’s arraignment to Wednesday.

Anderson, of Omaha, is charged with hazing and third-degree assault. The assault charge is one of two new charges against the Sigma Chi members since UNL police announced last month they had issued 11 citations for hazing or procuring alcohol for a minor.

Anderson allegedly slapped a Sigma Chi pledge on the face during a fraternity function last fall, UNL Assistant Chief Carl Oestmann said.

The other new charge - this one for theft by receiving stolen property, a class II misdemeanor - is against Kyle Humphrey, 22, of Omaha. It is a result of UNL officers’ discovery of a road barricade worth $75 in Humphrey’s bedroom during their search of the Sigma Chi house, 1510 Vine St., in March, Oestmann said.

Humphrey also faces charges of hazing and procuring alcohol. His attorney, Korey Reiman of Lincoln, entered not guilty pleas on his behalf, and he and other fraternity members are scheduled for docket calls in June.

Also charged are: Jonathan Knudsen, 21, of Grand Island, for hazing; Samuel Bates, 19, of Omaha, for procuring alcohol; Ian Dimka, 21, of Crofton, for procuring alcohol; Chris Wozniak, 22, of Omaha, for procuring alcohol; James Glover, 19, of Bellevue, for hazing and procuring alcohol; and Michael Classen, 22, of Omaha, for hazing and procuring alcohol.

UNL suspended Sigma Chi in April after the release of court documents that detailed a series of alleged hazing incidents at the fraternity, including one in which a stripper sodomized a pledge with a vibrator.

The father of that pledge has sued Sigma Chi, nine of its members and the national fraternity. The pledge transferred from UNL and has sought counseling, according to the lawsuit.

Court documents further allege pledges were verbally assaulted, forced to drink shots of Tabasco sauce and vodka until they vomited, and ordered to leap-frog each other around the fraternity house while being pelted with ice, wet paper towels and toilet paper.

Police also hauled vast amounts of alcohol from the house, even though UNL is a dry campus.

Many of the allegations were corroborated by multiple pledges who have dropped out of Sigma Chi. None, however, could verify the alleged sexual assault, which allegedly took place at an off-campus house during an initiation party.

Asked whether police are pursuing other charges, including sexual assault charges, Oestmann would only say: “We’re continuing to investigate the allegations that have been put forth.”

He would not rule out charges against additional fraternity members.

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