Ole Miss fraternity member, pledges tried to steal donkey statue, officials say

A fraternity brother and four pledges at the University of Mississippi, who were charged in an assault on another fraternity member, were trying to steal a donkey statue from a frat house, officials said Friday.

The school ruled that the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity chapter bears no responsibility for five students involved in an assault against Sigma Pi fraternity member Jeremy Boyle. Pi Kappa Alpha announced its Ole Miss chapter kicked out a member and four pledges.

"The event was not a part of any chapter activities and chapter leadership initiated internal judicial proceedings upon learning of the incident," national Pi Kappa Alpha spokesman Brent Phillips said in a statement.

Ole Miss spokesman Danny Blanton said the five students told investigators that they went to the Sigma Pi fraternity house around 4 a.m. on Oct. 6 to try to steal a donkey statue kept by the Sigma Pi chapter.

Pi Kappa Alpha member James Declan Basile was accompanied by four pledges — Tucker Cole Steil, Austin Rice, Christian Guy and Kyle Hughes. University police say Steil and Basile assaulted Boyle, a junior accounting major from Pennsylvania. It's not clear exactly how the alleged assault unfolded.

Boyle suffered a concussion, several broken teeth, a ruptured eardrum and a bruised lung, according to the Daily Mississippian. He was treated at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford and released.

Steil was arrested on felony assault charges Oct. 16 and posted $10,000 bail and was released on Monday, according to the Oxford Eagle.

Blanton said that a malicious mischief complaint was filed Oct. 11 by Pi Kappa Alpha after graffiti was painted on a fence at its house. He said officials haven't concluded whether that was related to the Oct. 6 incident.

Despite the hazing charge, Blanton said the university does not believe the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter broke university rules against hazing.

A heavily redacted police report indicates the students were also referred to the university's Judicial Council for discipline. Blanton said the investigation is ongoing and he can't comment on internal disciplinary proceedings. However, he said the university found the chapter wasn't responsible and didn't break university rules against hazing.

"It's the individual actions of five students," Blanton said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.