Hazing lawsuits settled at Ohio Wesleyan

Feb. 20, 2012 at 2:35 PM
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DELAWARE, Ohio, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Hazing lawsuits involving sexual assault at an Ohio Wesleyan University fraternity have been settled, officials said.

In 2010, four students at the Ohio Wesleyan Delaware campus told university officials a fraternity pledge instructor sexually assaulted them while they were pledges to Sigma Phi Epsilon in 2008, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reported Monday.

One student said the fraternity member made him strip naked and "aggressively touched" his penis to "prepare him for initiation" into the fraternity. The three other students reported similar incidents involving the same frat member.

After a hearing that included testimony by all students involved, a university panel found insufficient evidence of a violation. No one was disciplined.

Then, the pledge instructor filed a lawsuit against the four students and another student who testified at the hearing in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, accusing the five of slander and libel, the Dispatch said. The suit led to counterclaims on behalf of the five students.

Three of the suits, settled in December, ended with the accused student paying a total of $10,000 to two pledges who said they were "humiliated, embarrassed and subjected to personally degrading and outrageous hazing," court records said.

The national fraternity, which was named in the counterclaims, agreed to pay a total of $12,000 to the two pledges and cover court costs, the newspaper said.

All but one of the student involved have since graduated from Ohio Wesleyan. The newspaper did not identify any of the students, but an attorney in the case said a final dismissal of the suits following the settlements was expected soon.

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