(Reuters) - The whistleblower in a Penn State University fraternity scandal tied to a private Facebook group featuring photographs of nude and apparently unconscious female students has sued the school and fraternity, according to court documents released on Monday.
James Vivenzio says he was subjected to life-threatening hazing, which included being burned by cigarettes and forced to drink bucketfuls of alcohol mixed with vomit and urine while pledging for Kappa Delta Rho, according to the complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia.
Penn State last month shut down its Kappa Delta Rho chapter for three years over the private Facebook entries, as well as accusations of hazing and other misconduct.
In January, Vivenzio was the first to bring evidence of the Facebook group and hazing to local police and a school official, the complaint said. The Facebook group had about 150 members including students and alumni, according to media reports.
After Vivenzio brought his concerns to the attention of the school official, the college failed to take action, the complaint said.
Penn State on Monday said it “strongly disputes” Vivenzio’s claims. School officials attempted exhaustively to assist Vivenzio over the hazing claims but the student and his family failed to take action, the statement said. It said Vivenzio never told the school about the Facebook group.
The fraternity’s national office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Kappa Delta Rho national office said on Monday it had kicked out 38 members in connection with the misconduct case.
It was not immediately clear why they were expelled.
The members who were not suspended from the chapter will be moved to alumni status, Penn State’s Daily Collegian newspaper reported.
Campus police have investigated the accusations but have so far been unable to persuade the women in the photos to press charges against those responsible.
Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Eric Walsh