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 “to such an extent as to have resulted in serious bodily injury” requiring hospitalization, the Florence County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
CNN affiliate WBTW, citing investigators, reported that the victim suffered temporary injuries to his kidneys.
Florence County Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Nunn told CNN that his office wasn’t releasing details of the student’s injuries, but he said the student had “an extended hospital stay.”
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 sheriff’s office said.
“The 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,” the sheriff’s office release said.
Nunn said the hospital treating the injured student contacted the sheriff’s office, triggering the office’s investigation.
Jimmy Hammock, international president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., said the fraternity’s headquarters has suspended the Francis Marion chapter.
“Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. takes any form of reported hazing very seriously,” Hammock said. “Hazing has not and does not represent the tradition and principles of the 97-year history of our fraternity.
“Specifically 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.”
The university did not respond to requests for comment Friday.