A University of Alabama fraternity is being sued for allegedly hazing students, with charges including assault, battery, negligence and fraud.
The lawsuit was filed against the national and state chapters of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and several named members. A former fraternity pledge, referred to only as "H.B." in filings, filed the lawsuit, claiming multiple instances of violent abuse while attempting to join the fraternity.
The suit claims H.B. was instructed to "snort a white powdery substance." Afterward, he was forced into a basement where six fraternity members beat him. The suit claims the beating caused H.B. to begin "suffering dizziness and tinnitus of the ear."
After H.B. attempted to gather his belongings and leave, he was told the beating would become worse, and he had a beer can thrown at his head.
The suit further claims that H.B. was forced into a kiddie pool, where he was hosed down, and fraternity members began to make further demands.
"Members repeatedly demanded that H.B. yell a racial epithet, including at a Black student passerby," the complaint reads. "H.B. refused. A member sprayed H.B. with a water hose 1-2 inches from his nose and mouth for about 30 seconds."
H.B. and others were then forced to exercise vigorously while members threw objects at them. The lawsuit claims that, at one point, a member threw a baseball at H.B.'s head, causing him to lose consciousness and a "traumatic brain injury."
After he and another pledge left, H.B. was reportedly admitted to the emergency room. The results left H.B. with a diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury and post-concussive syndrome, for which he is under the care of a neurological specialist.
In 2014, the National Sigma Alpha Epsilon Organization banned hazing. Since H.B.'s claim of abuse contradicts the ban, the suit asserts that the organization did not exercise due care in preventing a supposedly banned practice. H.B. is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the described events.
In a statement to WBRC, the national organization claims it began cooperating with University administrators and law enforcement after being made aware of the allegations.
"It is not our practice to comment on matters related to litigation," the organization's statement reads. "Still, we want to be clear that acts of hazing and misconduct do not represent the Fraternity's values, which are defined by our creed, The True Gentleman, and will not be tolerated. Members who engage in these activities will be held accountable to the fullest extent."
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email [email protected].
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.