PHILADELPHIA – A former University of Pennsylvania student is suing a fraternity and two members, alleging they beat and scarred him in a hazing incident.
E. Martyn Griffen, 21, the son of an Arkansas appeals court judge, claims a fraternity member repeatedly punched his thighs, damaging them to the point where he can no longer participate in long-distance running.
The civil suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia also alleges another fraternity member continuously snapped a rubber band on Griffen's upper arm, leaving a scar.
The lawsuit names both the Baltimore-based national Alpha Phi Alpha organization — the country's oldest black fraternity — and its Penn chapter. It alleges assault, battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeks more than $75,000 in damages.
"The fraternity does not condone hazing in any way," said Michael Pegues, general counsel for Alpha Phi Alpha. "Hazing is not a part of what we stand for."
An attorney for one fraternity member accused of the beating declined comment. A lawyer for the other member did not immediately return a call for comment.
The lawsuit alleges that the Oct. 12 hazing was part of a group punishment meted out after Alpha Phi Alpha members said one of the pledges had divulged fraternity secrets to someone outside the organization.
Griffen's attorney, Robert Sachs, said Griffen initially tried to pass off the injuries as the result of athletic activity when he sought medical treatment. "There's a great deal of peer pressure to keep the true nature of what went on from being disclosed," he said.
He said Griffen had since withdrawn from Penn but planned to return in the fall.
Penn last month suspended the fraternity until 2008 after a university investigation found the chapter had violated the school's anti-hazing regulations, spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman said in a statement Thursday. She did not mention any specifics of the violation.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council, an umbrella organization for the country's nine historically black fraternities and sororities, including Alpha Phi Alpha, banned pledging in 1990 because of hazing concerns. Prospective members are supposed to be inducted through "a revised membership development and intake process," according the policy.