University president: Penn State considers "re-evaluation of the fraternity system"
Penn State University fraternity suspended over alleged private Facebook page
The page allegedly includes photos of nude or partially nude women
A Pennsylvania State University fraternity has been suspended after allegedly posting on a private Facebook page compromising photos of women, including some who appeared to be asleep or passed out.
The suspension of Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) fraternity comes as State College Police as well as university officials investigate the fraternity’s alleged use of the online page with up to 144 active members, including current and former students.
“No arrests are being made at this time,” State College Police Lt. Keith Robb said. “Unfortunately, we aren’t able to identify any suspects right now because the accounts on Facebook were sanitized, wiped clean.”
Robb said it has not yet been determined if any crime occurred.
In a statement, college administrators said the fraternity’s local chapter had been suspended for one year by the Penn State Interfraternity Council and that police and university officials were investigating.
The statement said the fraternity used the private Facebook page to post “highly inappropriate photographs … of activities and events that are in direct violation of the standards and values of a recognized student organization at Penn State.” The images allegedly included nude and partially nude women – some seemed to pose, others appeared incapacitated.
“The evidence offered by the Facebook postings is appalling, offensive and inconsistent with the University community’s values and expectations,” the statement said.
Penn State University President Eric Barron said in a separate statement Wednesday that the university will work with Kappa Delta Rho’s national headquarters to determine whether the fraternity should be reinstated.
The university is also considering whether fraternities will continue at Penn State, Barron said.
“It … brings us to a point where we must ask if a re-evaluation of the fraternity system is required,” he said. “Some members of the University senior leadership believe it is, and we are considering our options.”
David Clohessy, director of the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said in a statement that the latest allegations call into question the university’s handling of sex crime reports.
“For years now, Penn State enthusiasts have repeatedly reassured everyone who’d listen that the university’s problematic culture about sex crimes had been ‘reformed,” Clohessy said. “The latest allegations – that fraternity members posted nude pictures of women on Facebook, some of whom appeared to be sleeping or passed out – raise serious doubts about those claims.”
In 2012, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of sexually molesting boys and sentenced to a 30- to 60-year prison term. Sandusky, who has maintained his innocence, is appealing.
“The Kappa Delta Rho is a wake-up call,” Clohessy said. “But the Sandusky case should have been a wake-up call too.”
A former member of Kappa Delta Rho alerted police to the page, telling them in January that it had been used by members to share photos of “unsuspecting victims, drug sales and hazing,” according to a copy of a police affidavit.
The drugs allegedly included “marijuana and edibles, concentrates, ADD medication, and some cocaine,” the affidavit said.
The former frat member who tipped off police told authorities that a second Facebook page called “2.0” allegedly had been created around April 2014 following complaints from a woman whose photo was posted on it, the affidavit said. The earlier version of the page was titled “Covert Business Transactions.”
The ex-frat member told police that the victim was visiting the fraternity when she saw a topless photo of herself after a member accidentally left his Facebook page logged in, the affidavit said.
The affidavit included photos of women and screen shots of cellphone text exchanges, including one from a woman who allegedly had no recollection of a sexual encounter and whether birth control was used.
In the Sandusky case, the sensational trial featured the testimony of eight young men who said they were sexually abused by Sandusky – either groped in a car, soaped by him in the shower or sexually assaulted on a basement waterbed.
The scandal gripped the nation and ended a torturous chapter for the victims and Penn State’s vaunted football program, including the dismissal of the late legendary coach Joe Paterno and one of America’s highest-paid university presidents, Graham Spanier. It also tarnished Penn State’s celebrated reputation in collegiate athletics.
“We hope that Penn State officials will stop patting themselves on the back and start instituting real reforms to make the campus safer for students,” said Clohessy, whose group includes members who were allegedly molested by religious figures of all denominations.
Attempts to reach the university and interfraternity council were unsuccessful.
CNN’s Laura Ly and Sara Ganim contributed to this report.