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Sorority accused of hazing in $100 million suit

High's fiancÚ Holman Arthurs:
High's fiancÚ Holman Arthurs: "Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority is responsible for the deaths."

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- The family of a young woman who died in an alleged hazing incident filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the nation's oldest African-American sorority Monday.

Kristin High, 22, and Kenitha Saafir, 24, drowned September 9 at Dockweiler State Beach near Playa del Rey. The women were both students at California State University, Los Angeles, and were pledging the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority. High was the mother of a 2-year-old and was engaged to be married.

Several members of the sorority were with them that night, along with two other pledges, according to the lawsuit by the High family.

A preliminary investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department determined the two deaths "appear(ed) to be accidental" and unrelated to the young women's efforts to join the sorority. Police are still investigating.

High's family says a private investigation tells a different story.

Saafir and High were "blindfolded and tied by their hands and their bodies and led into the rip tide conditions of the ocean," the family's lawsuit says. "That night, the waves were cresting at 6 to 8 feet and creating a strong under-current resulting from rip-tide."

The lawsuit claims the two women were forced to do this after days of losing sleep as they did difficult and embarrassing chores for sorority members.

And before they entered the water on the last night of their lives, "they were told to engage in a tiring set of rigorous calisthenics on the sucking sand of the beach," the lawsuit says.

The two women were wearing jogging clothes and tennis shoes when they went into the water, which would have made it more difficult for them to get out.

The lawsuit, which calls AKA's policy against hazing "a sham," names the Alpha Kappa Alpha corporation, the regional chapter, and the individuals from the sorority who were present that night.

CNN was not immediately able to get a response from the sorority.

At a news conference Monday, attorneys for High's family accused the local chapter of AKA of engaging in "a coverup."

They also said no one from the sorority has contacted the women's families.

High's mother, Patricia Strong-Fargas, asked the sorority to "stop these savage acts of passion in the name of sisterhood."

Holman Arthurs, High's fiancÚ and father of her son, said, "My contention is the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority is responsible for the deaths of Kristin High and Kenitha Saafir as if they pulled a loaded gun, pointed it at point blank range and shot these two women."



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