BURLINGTON, Vt. – Four fraternity members accused of making pledges wear cowboy clothes and suffer homophobic insults in a "Brokeback Mountain"-themed initiation ritual face $1,000 fines under the state's anti-hazing law.
University of Vermont police said the civil penalties stemmed from a March 2 party at the Phi Gamma Delta house based on the movie about gay cowboys.
"What they did, which I felt was homophobic in nature, was inappropriate," UVM Police Chief Gary Margolis said.
Phi Gamma Delta's alumni advisers have denied accounts of anti-homosexual remarks and heavy drinking at the party.
Chittenden County Deputy State's Attorney Ed Sutton said his office did not plan to file criminal charges and believed the case "would be better dealt with in context of a university judicial review."
University police singled out four officers in the fraternity, Margolis said. Scott Curley II, 18, of Bridgewater, Mass.; Eric Freedman, 20, of West Simsbury, Conn.; Bill Holohan IV, 20, of Branford, Conn.; and Geoffrey Robinson, 20, of Middletown Springs were given tickets Friday, police said.
Vermont's anti-hazing law was passed after a 1999 hazing scandal at UVM in which members of the hockey team were accused of forcing freshman players to drink warm beer until they vomited and march in an "elephant walk" while holding each other's genitals. The allegations triggered the cancellation of the last 15 games of the hockey season.