A Harris County grand jury Thursday indicted the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity for hazing during a 2016 ordeal in which pledges were deprived of adequate food, water and sleep, and one was body slammed resulting in a lacerated spleen, prosecutors said.
The charge, a Class B Misdemeanor, comes in the wake of concurrent investigations by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the University of Houston, which in October suspended the fraternity from campus until 2023.
“Brotherhood and collegiate good times should be safe and hazing is not,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “It is also illegal and that should be recognized by the dozens of fraternities and sororities on college campuses all over the Houston area.
The charge was filed against the Tennessee-based Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity Inc., whose members are known by students as Pikes.
The indictment does not charge any individual criminally, but subjects the fraternity to a fine of up to $10,000 and the organization is subject to conviction for hazing including mental and physical abuse.
An official representative of the fraternity will have to be present for court hearings.
The indictment focuses on the treatment of one pledge, who like others was abused during a brutal three-day rite in Nov, 17-20, 2016.
The pledge was weakened physically, and broken down mentally, by rolling around in vomit, spit and feces, as well as going without food and drink and sleep during much of the ordeal.
At one point, he was instructed to run through the darkness of a rural stretch of land while clutching a glow stick in what was known as a “green light game.”
He was subjected to being blindside tackled by fraternity members dressed in dark clothing and lying in wait. He was later hospitalized.
Ogg praised the University of Houston’s efforts in the wake of the incident.
“The University of Houston showed resolve in conducting a thorough investigation and holding the fraternity accountable,” she said.