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