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6 charged with sorority hazing

  • Members of Sigma Gamma Rho at Rutgers charged with aggravated hazing
  • One woman sought medical attention for non-life-threatening injuries, police say
  • Sorority chapter is suspended by university and by its national headquarters
  • Alleged hazing occurred at university student apartment building, police say

(CNN) -- Rutgers University has suspended a sorority after police charged six of its members in a hazing investigation.

The North Carolina-based headquarters of the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority also suspended the chapter at Rutgers, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

That means the sorority has ceased to be officially recognized and can accept no new recruits while the investigation is under way.

Police have charged six sorority members with aggravated hazing, which a police spokesman Friday called a possible "indictable offense."

Rutgers Police Lt. Richard Dinan said the six women were taken to the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Facility, and bail was set at $1,500 for each. At least four of the woman have posted bail, he said.

He declined to give details of the alleged hazing, but said one woman sought medical attention for non-life-threatening injuries.

Dinan told The Star-Ledger newspaper in Newark Wednesday that there were at least three victims, but police may identify more victims and more suspects. He said four sorority members were arrested Tuesday and two more on Wednesday.

He said the hazing occurred at a university student apartment building, but he declined to give the location. The hazing began about the middle of January and went on for eight days, he said.

Dinan also told the newspaper that the alleged victims were "unofficial pledges" because the alleged hazing did not occur during the university's recognized pledge period. Sigma Gamma Rho is a recognized sorority, but it does not have a sorority house in New Brunswick, Dinan said.

The police officer said five of the undergraduates charged were from New Jersey: Vanessa Adegbite, 21, of Jersey City; Joana Bernard, 21, of West Orange; Kesha Cheron, 20, of Newark; Shawna Ebanks, 21, of East Orange; and Marie Charles, 21, of West Orange. Llana Warner, 20, is from New York City.

E. J. Miranda, a spokesman for Rutgers, said a student and her parents reported the alleged hazing to the university administration Tuesday.

According to the university's statement, "After receiving this information, university officials contacted the police." Miranda said he didn't know whether the sorority had had similar reports before.

According to Rutgers, the university "strictly prohibits all forms of hazing. Under the Code of Student Conduct, a student found to have engaged in hazing may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion."