Ex-frat member's horrifying lawsuit alleges a Penn State frat operated just like a 'gang'

Ex-frat member and whistle-blower James Vivenzio filed a lawsuit Monday against Penn State, the national fraternity of Kappa Delta Rho (KDR), Penn State’s chapter of the fraternity, the Interfraternity Council, and Panhellenic Association.

The suit — posted online by Buzzfeed — alleges the university did nothing to intervene when Vivenzio alerted it to “reckless, barbaric, and life-threatening” hazing and alleged sexual assault of women by the Kappa Delta Rho (KDR) fraternity on campus.

Here’s one of the more disturbing parts of the complaint:

The KDR fraternity operated much like a gang, obtaining some of its funding by converting the pre-paid food plans of its pledges and confiscating and selling their prescription drugs. These funds were then used to pay for countless socials, pre-socials and parties at the fraternity house at which underage students were plied with alcohol and, in some cases, drugs to facilitate sexual assault and abuse. Crucial to the fraternity’s routine schedule of parties, alcohol and dru use, and sexual misconduct, was the regular and violent hazing of fresh recruits.

Plaintiff James Vivenzio is the whistleblower who, in January 2015, brought evidence to police in the adjoining Borough of State College, Pennsylvania, where KDR’s fraternity house is located, about an invitation-only Facebook site that was used by KDR members to post photos of, among other subjects, female students naked, unconscious and, in some cases, in the act of being sexually assaulted. The Facebook site was also used to facilitate hazing by enabling instant communication with pledges and also to humiliate, harass and beckon pledges on a 24/7 basis.

Students and community members protest the KDR fraternity at Penn State in March.screengrabStudents and community members protest the KDR fraternity at Penn State in March.

Vivenzio says he met with an investigator from Penn State in April 2014 to share the evidence and prompt action from the university. However, he says, that action never came until a full year later in May 2015 when Penn State issued a three year suspension for KDR.

Vivenzio alleges that Penn State acted only after he went to the police.

The lawsuit claims the alleged hazing caused Vivenzio to fail out after his freshman year. He says he entered rehabilitation for alcohol abuse and was hospitalized as a result of post traumatic stress disorder.

On Monday, Kappa Delta Rho’s national headquarters expelled 38 member’s from the Penn State chapter and revoked its charter for three years.

“This is an incredibly brave young man who is taking this step to get justice for himself, but also to make a strong statement about the importance of this issue generally,” Vivenzio’s lawyer Aaron Freiwald, told Business Insider.”There are so many people, men and women, who are at risk from this kind of hazing and from the sexual assualt that so frequently goes along with it.”

We have reached out to Penn State and Kappa Delta Rho’s national office for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

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