JWU student suing fraternity over allegations of vicious hazing

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A student at Johnson & Wales University in Providence is suing a former campus fraternity, claiming he was seriously injured while pledging to become a member last fall.

The school banned Tau Kappa Epsilon after allegations of abusive hazing practices arose in November.

According to court documents obtained by Eyewitness News, Terrance Bennett said he suffered “severe, disfiguring, and permanent injuries” as a result of the hazing, which led to him being hospitalized for a month.

In the complaint, Bennett claims members of the frat put him through torturous acts, including “holding him down and branding him, fiercely and regularly beating him with wooden paddles, forcing him to eat raw onions and sticks of butter until he vomited multiple times then showering him in his own vomit, burning him with cigarettes, and urinating on him.”

The lawsuit also alleges that despite Bennett’s need for medical attention, fraternity members told him not to seek it, for fear it would get them in trouble.

Bennett said at one point he lost consciousness and woke up in the intensive care unit at a hospital. He struggled to walk and sit as a result of his injuries, the documents said, and he developed jaundice and a fever.

Court documents also indicate Bennett was the sole pledge remaining when the allegations arose, as every other candidate had dropped out by that point.

Johnson & Wales released a statement Friday, saying they were quick to act when the allegations arose.

Johnson & Wales University is aware that a complaint has been filed in Providence County Superior Court which alleges that a student suffered serious injuries as a result of hazing activities conducted by the TKE fraternity at an off-campus location. When the university became aware of the alleged hazing activities, it took swift action to inform the university community about the alleged behavior. The university also first imposed an interim suspension and then ultimately banned the fraternity from the university in December 2014. Hazing is strictly prohibited by the university’s student code of conduct, and all alleged incidents of hazing are reviewed pursuant to the conduct review process.

Tau Kappa Epsilon told Eyewitness News on Friday, “after receiving allegations of hazing, we conducted an investigation into the Tau-Mu chapter of TKE. At the conclusion of the investigation, Tau Kappa Epsilon made the decision to close the chapter on February 2, 2015. The group is no longer recognized as an active chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon and is not allowed to represent themselves as a student organization on campus.

Anyone with information on this or any other incidents of hazing is urged to contact Campus Safety & Security at (401) 598-1103, or Providence police at (401) 272-3121. Anonymous tips can also be submitted through the Silent Witness tab at www.jwu.edu/providence/safety.

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