HOUSTON (CN) – The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was indicted by a Harris County, Texas, grand jury Thursday based on accusations of hazing at its University of Houston chapter, including claims that one pledge was body-slammed and forced to roll around in vomit and feces.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced the hazing charge, which is a Class B misdemeanor. She said it comes in the wake of investigations by both her office and the university, which suspended the fraternity from its campus until 2023.
The grand jury indicted Tennessee-based Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity Inc. No individuals face criminal charges, but the fraternity could be fined $10,000 if convicted in Harris County of hazing including mental and physical abuse.
Prosecutors allege fraternity pledges in the Houston chapter had to endure a “brutal three-day rite in Nov. 17-20, 2016," including food, water and sleep deprivation.
One pledge suffered a lacerated spleen after being body-slammed in a “green light game,” according to prosecutors. They claim he was forced to run through a rural stretch of land in the dark while holding a glow stick and was then blindside tackled by fraternity members dressed in dark clothes, resulting in him being hospitalization.
Fraternity members also allegedly made the pledge roll around in vomit, feces and spit, causing physical and mental breakdowns.
Pi Kappa Alpha said in a statement that the fraternity does not tolerate hazing and the Houston chapter has been suspended.
"The hazing allegations outlined in the indictment occurred in the context of activities of the former Epsilon Eta Chapter, not the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity," the fraternity said. "After allegations of hazing by Epsilon Eta Chapter were received by the International Fraternity, the Fraternity suspended the Chapter's charter on August 2, 2017."
Pi Kappa Alpha added that it does not control any chapter, its members or their activities, but can suspend a chapter’s charter.
DA Ogg praised the University of Houston for addressing the claims against the fraternity decisively.
"The University of Houston showed resolve in conducting a thorough investigation and holding the fraternity accountable," Ogg said in the press release.
Reciprocally, the university praised Harris County for taking action against the fraternity in a statement published Thursday by local CBS affiliate KHOU.
"Today we are grateful that our county partners have delivered a stern message through the grand jury's decision against the fraternity, that such behavior, which jeopardizes the well being of our students, will not be tolerated," the university said.