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Citadel suspends student in alleged hazing

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College president threatens 'severe punishment'

December 14, 1996
Web posted at: 8:00 p.m. EST

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) -- Officials at the Citadel suspended a second-year male student for an alleged hazing incident, officials at the military college said Saturday.

In addition, several other cadet officers were relieved of their commands and assigned to other barracks at the school.

At issue is a report that two female cadets at the Citadel were sprayed with a flammable liquid and their clothes set afire.

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Neither woman was injured, although at least one was the target of other threats as well, according to a cadet who reported the alleged incidents to school officials after the women declined to report it themselves.

Citadel officials said Saturday they were told by the FBI that a federal probe into the incidents could last four months. The FBI was called into the case because of possible civil rights violations, said State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart.

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"We have seen some smoke and we want to make sure that there is no fire," interim President Clifton Poole said Saturday. "I can promise you there is going to be punishment if any of this is remotely true, severe punishment."icon (170k/15 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Hazing is against The Citadel's rules and against state law, and if the complaint is verified it could result in expulsion of the perpetrator from the publicly funded school.

The alleged incidents happened "weeks ago," but the school learned of the complaint only late Thursday and promptly requested a state investigation, Poole said.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division told CNN its investigation into the matter will be completed within the next week, with a report expected to be forwarded to local prosecutors.

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The Citadel this fall admitted four female cadets after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a similar state-supported institution, the Virginia Military Institute, could no longer exclude women.

A year earlier, Shannon Faulkner was admitted to The Citadel after a fierce legal fight to force the formerly all-male school to admit women. She dropped out after less than a week.

The women involved in the alleged hazing now under investigation were not identified, but all four were in school as of this Friday. Final exams were to begin soon.

Said cadet Charles Perreault: "This couldn't have happened at a worse time."

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