The Washington Times-Herald

December 23, 2011

Sigma Pi, VU facing lawsuit over hazing

Rama Sobhani
Vincennes Sun-Commercial

VINCENNES — A former Vincennes University student has filed a lawsuit again the university and the Sigma Pi fraternity, 1602 N. Second St., alleging that he was injured during a hazing ritual in 2009.

Aaron Davis has filed a complaint in Knox Superior Court I, alleging that in November of 2009 he was pushed down a flight of stairs by a member of the fraternity during a recruitment period known as “Hell Week.”

The complaint, filed last month, is seeking damages against the university for what Davis alleges was negligence on behalf of administrators and fraternity officials.

According to the filing, Davis was a student seeking entry into the fraternity and as such had to endure a “hazing” ritual, which involved alcohol consumption. The practice of hazing is against state law.

Sigma Pi was suspended for two years beginning in 2004 for what university officials called a “pattern (of behavior)” that included “alcohol use during rush” and a “rape investigation.”

In his complaint Davis alleges that on Nov. 22, 2009, after having consumed alcohol he was pushed down a flight of stairs by a member of the fraternity who had also consumed alcohol.

The extent of the injuries the complaint alleges that Davis suffered as a result of the incident are not explained.

The university, its trustees, who are also named as defendants, and the fraternity’s high-ranking members should have been aware of previous complaints against the VU chapter and have taken action to prevent its members from seeking new recruits.

The complaint alleges that the university had received complaints in the nature of rape, consumption of alcohol by minors, mocking mentally-challenged members of the KCARC and battery but had done nothing to revoke Sigma Pi’s charter, which allowed the circumstances that led to Davis’ injury.

VU has filed for and been granted an extension of time until Jan. 3, 2012 to respond to the complaint. No hearings have been scheduled.

Davis has requested a jury trial.

Davis is being represented by Mark D. Geheb, a local attorney with Joe D. Black’s law firm, 116 N. Seventh St.

Vincennes University is represented by Brent Stuckey with HartBell, 513 Main St.

Neither Geheb nor Stuckey was available Thursday for comment.

The Vincennes chapter is the fraternity's coveted Alpha, or founding, chapter. The international headquarters for Sigma Pi was once located at Shadowwood, 6451 E. Wheatland Road. It was moved to Brentwood, Tenn., about a year ago.