Family Sues Over Drowning During Alleged Sorority HazingLOS ANGELES
The family of one of two women who drowned during an alleged college hazing sued a sorority for wrongful death, saying its members should have known it was dangerous to send pledges into heavy surf at night.
Kenitha Saafir, 24, had told her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters that she was afraid of the water and could not swim, attorney Carl Douglas said at a news conference last month. He claimed she was blindfolded and sent into the ocean at Dockweiler Beach dressed in a heavy sweatsuit, socks and tennis shoes.
Alpha Kappa Alpha, founded in 1908, is the oldest African American sorority in America. The suit names its leaders and those present at the beach when the women drowned on Sept. 9, 2002.
Douglas said Saafir had spoken of her fear of water during a visit to the same beach two days before she and another pledge, Kristin High, 22, drowned there.
Both Saafir and High were seniors at California State University.
Charles Albert, an attorney for the Chicago-based sorority, said in a telephone interview: “We don’t believe the sorority has any liability. The individuals involved were pledging for a chapter that was suspended at the time.”
Douglas said he was aware of the sorority’s claim that the chapter was suspended. But he said that on the day of Saafir’s death it was listed as an official chapter on the sorority’s national Web site.
Albert said the sorority has an official policy against hazing which is included in its handbooks and brochures.
Douglas said the practice is banned in 42 states but continues nevertheless.
“Hazing is the dirty little secret of sororities and fraternities nationwide,” he said.
— Associated Press
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