|www.corpun.com : Archive : 1998 : US Illicit May 1998|
Corpun file 13853 at www.corpun.com
The Washington Post, 3 May 1998
In Honor Code Case, VMI Expels Students on Both Ends of Spankings
By Michael D. Shear
Three freshmen at the Virginia Military Institute were expelled yesterday after a student jury found them guilty of lying to protect three seniors who had spanked them with belts, according to a lawyer for the freshmen.
The jurors deliberated for more than five hours before finding the freshmen and three seniors guilty of violating the school's honor code, said Bernhardt Wruble, an attorney for the freshmen. The seniors also were expelled, the automatic penalty for an honor code violation. Yesterday's early morning verdict followed a two-day Honor Court trial.
Wruble said the three freshmen will seek a hearing in U.S. District Court in Roanoke Monday on a motion to have their expulsion overturned. He said his clients will argue that VMI's disciplinary process is unconstitutional and lacking in due process.
"The decision to kick them out was both unsurprising and sad," Wruble said. "Our clients have been doubly victimized and grossly let down by VMI."
Mike Strickler, a spokesman for VMI, declined to discuss the outcome of the Honor Court trial, saying that disciplinary cases are confidential. But he said the school holds the honor code "above all else."
"The honor code is very simple at VMI," he said. "A cadet does not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do."
The three freshmen were hit with a belt on several occasions last fall, according to documents filed with the Honor Court. The three seniors operated a "whack system" in which they posted a list of freshman infractions that would draw a "whack" on the buttocks. The list included such violations as getting a low grade or playing country music, the documents said.
A fourth freshman revealed the incidents to school authorities. The three freshmen who were brought before the Honor Court were charged with lying because they initially denied to student investigators that the spankings had occurred.
The freshmen's attorneys said their clients felt pressured to cover up the incidents because the seniors were their mentors and VMI tradition calls for freshmen to be loyal to the seniors who mentor them.
The three freshmen are Brandon M. Crane, of Evansville, Ind.; Arnold J. Gore, of Richmond; and Terence M. Redmond, of Hockessin, Del. The three seniors are Donald Evans, of Alexandria; Jason Roderiques, of North Dartmouth, Mass.; and Phantamith Prompol, of Alexandria.
Lawyers for all six students had argued that their clients were treated unfairly by student investigators. They said the investigators dragged the students out of bed in the middle of the night to question them.
Attorneys for the three seniors could not be reached for comment yesterday. "The investigatory process was fundamentally unfair," Wruble said. "The excesses are extreme. VMI is an incredible institution, but you have this big, yawning flaw. It's gone wild. It's shocking."
Corpun file 13854 at www.corpun.com
The Washington Times, 5 May 1998
Expelled VMI cadets to take finals as case heads to court
By David Reed
ROANOKE - Six Virginia Military Institute cadets expelled for lying about a spanking ritual will be allowed to take their final exams, and a federal judge will decide whether their punishment was proper.
The three freshmen and three seniors were expelled Friday night after a three-day trial before the student honor court.
Yesterday, the case moved to U.S. District Judge James Turk's court. The cadets claim student investigators violated their constitutional rights, and their attorneys asked Judge Turk to force VMI to let the students take their final exams while the federal challenge proceeds.
The freshmen were accused of lying to protect their senior mentors who spanked them with belts. The seniors were accused of lying about striking the male freshmen for breaking barracks rules.
The VMI honor code calls for cadets to be expelled if the honor court finds them guilty of lying, cheating or stealing. Expelled students are immediately taken off school grounds and they are forbidden from returning. Classmates are forbidden from even uttering the names of expelled students.
The six cadets have said that during a hazing investigation in February, student investigators dragged them out of bed between midnight and 2 a.m. An attorney speaking for all six cadets argued yesterday that the students' statements were coerced and they had no right to remain silent or seek outside advice.
"I don't know of any police organization that has the power to drag you out of bed in the middle of the night, hold you in a room against your will and force you to make a signed statement," Bernhardt Wruble told Judge Turk. “We don't have anything comparable in civil society. We don't even have anything comparable in military society."
Judge Turk criticized VMI's method of investigating honor-code violations. "It just seems like Gestapo tactics," the judge said.
VMI attorney Tabor Cronk defended the process.
"I don't see the great conflict between loyalty to one's fellow student and the honor system," Mr. Cronk said.
During a recess, VMI agreed to let the students take the final exams, which are being given this week and next week. The students will be allowed to be tested by any VMI graduate or any certified instructor, but they won't be sitting beside their former classmates.
VMI's superintendent, Maj. Gen. Josiah Bunting III, said the school will not give the seniors their diplomas unless the expulsions are overturned by the board of visitors.
The defendants are seniors Donald J. Evans and Phantamith Prompol of Alexandria, and Jason M. Roderiques of North Dartmouth, Mass.; and freshmen Arnold J. Gore of Richmond; Brandon M. Crane of Evansville, Ind.; and Terence Redmond of Hockessin, Del.
In a similar but unrelated case, a Circuit Court grand jury in Rockbridge County returned hazing indictments yesterday against three VMI upperclassmen accused of spanking a freshman last fall.
However, special prosecutor Michael Irvine said the case may get dismissed because VMI denies that hazing took place. The state's hazing law requires a finding by a school that a student was injured by hazing. VMI contends there was no evidence that the freshman was injured.
The student, George Wade Jr. of Henrico County, later dropped out of VMI and two of the three seniors accused in the case were suspended for a semester. Mr. Wade said he and five other VMI freshmen were beaten with a belt on the buttocks and upper thighs about three times a week last fall, leaving the students with welts and bruises.
But in interviews with VMI's student newspaper, two of the freshmen described the incidents as horseplay and said all six cadets participated voluntarily.
Corpun file 7553 at www.corpun.com
The Shawnee News-Star, Oklahoma, 17 May 1998
11 fraternity members charged with assault
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. (AP) -- Eleven people associated with a popular fraternity have been charged with assaulting pledges with wooden canes every day for almost two months.
Four fraternity members were arrested Friday evening and seven other current or former students at the university were being sought. All 11 are charged with first degree assault, hazing and reckless endangerment.
Five Kappa Alpha Psi pledges at University of Maryland, Eastern Shore underwent surgery for cuts and infections on their buttocks from being spanked with paddles and canes from Feb. 8 to April 4, police and family members said.
Kappa Alpha Psi's activities have been suspended pending completion of the investigation.
The fraternity has been linked to hazing incidents at two other universities, including one last month at Kansas State where the father of a student said his son suffered kidney injuries so severe he will have to undergo dialysis.
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