Maryland Fraternity Slapped With $3m Lawsuit

Another fraternity has come under fire for hazing, this time at Maryland's Bowie State University. A student has filed a massive lawsuit against Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, alleging that he was hazed while pledging the historic black fraternity. The $3-million lawsuit even includes pictures documenting the alleged abuse, which the plaintiff claims was carried out with paddles for hours at a time.

The lawsuit against APA, which was the first black fraternity established in the United States, was brought by Kevin Hayes, a 20-year-old junior at the storied university. Hayes alleges two members of his fraternity put him through hellish hazing that included hours of physical abuse. The lawsuit states the several APA members would force Hayes to endure five to eight hours of "sets," where the fraternity brothers would punish the pledges with punches and slaps with both bare fists and paddles. The alleged hazing took place during the fall of 2013, according to the lawsuit.

Hayes told CBS Baltimore that following the pledging process, APA members threatened him and his mother, worried that he would go to authorities because the fraternity brothers found pictures of Hayes' injuries on his phone. "They began to say `You’re a snitch; you’re always talking. We are going to blackball you,'" Hayes told CBS Baltimore. "They began to ostracize me."

According to Alpha Phi Alpha's national organization, the fraternity "strictly prohibits hazing," whether it's physical or mental abuse. Maryland also has a stringent anti-hazing law that defines hazing as the following:

A person may not recklessly or intentionally do an act or create a situation that subjects a student to the risk of serious bodily injury for the purpose of initiation into a student organization of a school, college or university.

The state doesn't excuse expressed consent by a student, and consent can not be used in the defense of hazing. People found guilty of hazing in Maryland face up to six months in prison or a $500 fine.

Meanwhile, the Alpha Phi Alpha national organization claims that pledging has been abolished across its fraternity chapters, yet Hayes alleges he was subjected to hazing during a semester-long pledging process. "Pledging is against the purposes and goals of the Fraternity," APA states on its national website.

The Bowie State chapter of APA didn't elaborate too much on the shocking lawsuit, but assured in a statement that any members found guilty of violating the fraternity's anti-hazing policy will be "immediately suspended with recommendation for expulsion." The fraternity also said that the case is being investigated, and the Bowie State chapter has been suspended while the probe is pending.

The fraternity continued in a statement:

Any member or aspirant found to participate in or knowingly allow any hazing activity does not support the mission, vision, or aims of Alpha Phi Alpha and does not deserve the privilege of membership.

Although Bowie State isn't named in the lawsuit, the university released its own statement this week, emphasizing the school's commitment to cracking down on fraternity hazing:

Bowie State University has a stringent anti-hazing policy that is coupled with a strong anti-hazing education program. The university considers hazing to be indefensible and contrary to the interest of the university community.

However, Hayes claims Bowie State wasn't very supportive when his mother allegedly called the school to report the hazing — and his resulting injuries. "[Bowie State] didn't respond... they treated it as though it didn't happen," Hayes told NBC Washington.

Bowie State is refusing to comment more on the disturbing case.

Images: screenshot/CBS Baltimore, Facebook/Bowie State University