PHILADELPHIA ― A former student who blew the whistle on a Penn State fraternity’s secret Facebook page featuring photos of naked women said the university ignored his complaints about sexual assault, hazing and drug use.
James Vivenzio of Great Falls, Virginia, said in a lawsuit filed Monday against the university and the suspended fraternity that he waited eight months for Penn State to take action before going to police in January.
Vivenzio said, as a freshman pledge, he was burned with cigarettes, force-fed buckets of liquor mixed with urine, vomit and hot sauce, and made to guzzle alcohol as part of fraternity hazing rituals.
Vivenzio’s lawyer said he went to police when he feared someone would die from the activities.
“I never intended to become a whistleblower,” Vivenzio, now 21, said at a news conference on Monday. “I was afraid somebody could die unless the abuse, the Facebook 2.0 site, and all that was going on, were shut down.”
Penn State recently suspended the fraternity for three years. The university and fraternity didn’t immediately return messages.
Meanwhile, the national office of Kappa Delta Rho on Monday expelled 38 members at Penn State, saying they violated the fraternity’s values.
Kappa Delta Rho executive director Joseph Rosenberg, however, cited chapter President Tom Friel for outstanding leadership traits and said that fraternity members who assumed responsibility for their actions wouldn’t be expelled.
The fraternity expulsions have no effect on the students’ status at the university.
Penn State said in March that its investigation found some fraternity members engaged in sexual harassment and hazing that included a “persistent climate of humiliation” for women.
The school won’t recognize the fraternity again until 2018.