RADFORD, Va. – An investigation is underway after a college student and potential pledge was branded at a rogue fraternity party near Radford University. It allegedly happened at a home on the 1200 block of Downy Street in Radford where members of the disbanded national fraternity chapter of Pi Kappa Phi live.
According to search warrants, the male student was forced to drink a large amount of liquor, then was burned after he passed out. The search warrants were filed Nov. 29 and detail what the victim says happened the night of the party, on Sept. 14.
The victim was one of 15 other potential new members who were not only forced to drink, but had their phones taken from them as part of an agreement with strippers who were also at the party.
The victim says he was greeted by the fraternity president who “approached the group and provided them with approximately eight handles of Burnett’s Vodka. The group was instructed to drink the eight alcoholic beverages between them within five minutes.” According to the warrant the group was provided with a trash can outside and instructed to use it in the event they needed to vomit.
After an allotted time, each potential new member was escorted inside the home and told to place their cellphone inside a black bag kept by a member at the front door. According to the warrant, the victim told police this was done because the strippers did not want anyone to take pictures of them.
Once inside the home, the victim was taken to a room where the floor was lined with plastic. He was placed in a seat in the middle of the room where he, along with the other potential new members, received lap dances from strippers. The victim, who was reportedly drunk at the time, told police he was “lightly whipped” by a stripper before losing consciousness from the alcohol.
The victim says he woke up on a couch in the basement of the home the next morning wearing only his boxer shorts and socks, the rest of his clothes removed, with a pain in his buttocks. That’s when he discovered that he had been burned.
“Upon returning to his dorm room, the victim discovered he had a serious wound,” the warrant stated.
Over the next several weeks the victim made multiple doctor’s visits and ultimately, surgical medical procedures. The doctor determined the wound was from a thermal burn.
When police asked the men at the fraternity about the burn, they told police the victim's wounds were from chemical burns during an attempt to clean the couch with Scrubbing Bubbles shower cleaner while the victim was sleeping. A doctor denied that claim.
One man interviewed told police that the couch was urinated or vomited on by another member of the party so they decided to move the sleeping victim. The man told police they then used the cleaner to clean the couch, then placed the victim back on the couch after it was clean.
Police said that fraternities on campus are known to brand members with fraternity insignias to represent membership or association. The wound dimension on the victim is described as “symmetrically outlined with measurements of approximately 3.35 inches long and 1.57 inches wide. The wound is approximately a half inch deep and appears to be a point, with the other end being a semi-circle."
The victim's doctor says the victim has permanent disfigurement/damage to the skin and will have a significant scar.
Police have now confiscated several phones as well as computers, along with DNA swabs and drug paraphernalia from the home and members who were there.
In 2016, members of the fraternity chapter pleaded guilty to hazing after a similar incident where then-members made pledges do push-ups on bottle caps, among other hazing rituals.
Radford University Relations Vice President Joe Carpenter says RU dismissed the fraternity from campus. The chapter also lost its national affiliation from the Pi Kappa Phi headquarters.
"These most recent allegations we find reprehensible," Carpenter said. “They don't represent Radford University.”
Carpenter said the university is working with the Radford City Police Department fully on the investigation.
"Upon hearing this, we took it very seriously. We made sure we gave the necessary support to the student to help him, in this regard, and we also immediately contacted the City of Radford Police,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said they recommend that students only join university-sanctioned organizations, including fraternities and sororities. He said all approved organizations are listed on their website.
Additionally, Carpenter said all campus organizations are bound by strict rules against hazing and the more than 1,000 students who participate in them are well-educated about the rules and how to protect themselves.
Carpenter pointed out that per university regulations, sororities are only allowed to recruit in the fall semester and fraternities are only allowed to recruit in the spring. This recruitment party happened during the fall. Carpenter said like previous members who violated student policies, students found guilty of violating rules, would be punished by the university.
"I will say that any students that are implicated in their investigation, we will also hold them, as the facts are gathered and are confirmed, we will hold them fully accountable under the student conduct code,” Carpenter said.
Todd Shelton, assistant executive director of communications with the national fraternity Pi Kappa Phi headquarters gave 10 News this statement:
“Pi Kappa Phi closed its chapter at Radford University in June 2016. As part of the closure, the student members were directed to cease and desist all activities in the name of the fraternity. Pi Kappa Phi will pursue appropriate legal remedies to stop the unauthorized use of our name on campus.”
No arrests have been made.