Nine South Carolina college fraternity members were arrested this week on hazing charges, accused of beating and severely injuring a pledge with a paddle, authorities said.
The victim, a Francis Marion University student who was pledging Phi Beta Sigma, was paddled at an off-campus residence on October 23 âto such an extent as to have resulted in serious bodily injuryâ requiring hospitalization, the Florence County Sheriffâs Office said in a news release.
CNN affiliate WBTW, citing investigators, reported that the victim suffered temporary injuries to his kidneys.
Florence County Sheriffâs Capt. Mike Nunn told CNN that his office wasnât releasing details of the studentâs injuries, but he said the student had âan extended hospital stay.â
The suspects – three Francis Marion students and six alumni, according to WBTW – were charged with hazing, a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to a year in jail.
The suspects appeared before a Florence County magistrate and have been released on $5,000 personal recognizance bonds, the sheriffâs office said.
âThe arrest warrants allege that the suspects, each individually and collectively, committed the hazing by intentionally inflicting physical harm upon the victim in order for the victim to gain admission to the fraternity,â the sheriffâs office release said.
Nunn said the hospital treating the injured student contacted the sheriffâs office, triggering the officeâs investigation.
Jimmy Hammock, international president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., said the fraternityâs headquarters has suspended the Francis Marion chapter.
âPhi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. takes any form of reported hazing very seriously,â Hammock said. âHazing has not and does not represent the tradition and principles of the 97-year history of our fraternity.
âSpecifically pertaining to the unfortunate injury of the Francis Marion student, the fraternity has and will continue to work closely with the campus officials and the local police concerning this situation.â
The university did not respond to requests for comment Friday.