HOUSTON – The parent organization of a University of Houston fraternity was indicted on a hazing charge Thursday that alleges pledges were deprived of adequate food, water and sleep during a three-day event where one student was body slammed and sustained a lacerated spleen.
The indictment names Tennessee-based Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity Inc. and stems from alleged incidents that occurred in November 2016. A conviction on the misdemeanor could result in fines of up to $10,000.
The organization released a statement saying it "does not control any chapter or its members or their activities," but that it also doesn't tolerate hazing, maltreatment "or any activities that do not treat individuals with dignity and respect."
The indictment focuses on one student pledge who was allegedly rolled around in vomit, spit and feces. The student also was forced to run in darkness carrying a glow stick while being blindsided by fraternity members tackling him, according to Harris County prosecutors.
"Brotherhood and collegiate good times should be safe, and hazing is not," District Attorney Kim Ogg said. "It is also illegal, and that should be recognized by the dozens of fraternities and sororities on college campuses all over the Houston area."
Ogg said an official representative of the fraternity will have to be present for court hearings. The indictment was handed down by a grand jury in Houston.
In its Thursday statement, Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity Inc. said the hazing alleged in the indictment "occurred in the context of activities" of a now former chapter that was a "separate, unincorporated association" of University of Houston students.
The organization said it suspended the chapter's charter in August, after it received allegations of hazing.
The university has already suspended Pi Kappa Alpha from its campus until 2023. The school said takes its responsibility seriously to train fraternities and sororities be safe and to adhere to laws and university policies against hazing.