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Penn State 'Strongly Disputes' Allegations In KDR Lawsuit

by on June 08, 2015 4:42 PM

Penn State is firing back at a new lawsuit from a former Kappa Delta Rho member who accuses the university of failing to properly respond to reports of hazing, abuse and drug use at the fraternity.

On Monday, former KDR member James Vivenzio sued both Penn State and KDR in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. He says he gave Penn State the chance to stop repeated instances of hazing at the frat, but that the university chose to do nothing.

But Penn State “strongly disputes” these allegations.

In a statement from university spokesperson Lisa Powers, Penn State corroborates Vivenzio’s claim that he approached university officials with concerns about hazing and abuse in April 2014.

Penn State says it “offered him extraordinary assistance on numerous occasions, and went to great lengths to do so over the course of nearly nine months,” even sending Office of Student Conduct Director Danny Shaha to his home in Virginia.

But that’s the point where Penn State’s and Vivenzio’s stories stop matching up.

In his lawsuit, Vivenzio claims he had numerous photos of KDR brothers hazing pledges and numerous screenshots of KDR members texting about hazing and drug use. He claims that he showed all of these pieces of evidence to Shaha, but that Penn State did not take the next step.

But Penn State says that’s not exactly how it went down.

“Neither he nor his family were willing to file a complaint, provide documentation, speak with State College Police or participate in pursuing the formal disciplinary process available to them, despite repeated encouragement from University staff,” Penn State claims in its statement.

In a statement released in response, Vivenzio’s attorney Aaron Freiwald attacks Penn State’s claims as “dismissive and demeaning” and “an attempt to conceal and blur the truth.”

Freiwald says that Vivenzio provided ample documentation to the university and that Penn State never mentioned the possibility of internal investigation. He also says the Vivenzio family has been more than willing to work with State College police, who have been performing a criminal investigation since January.

“We look forward to presenting all of the evidence in this case to a jury,” Freiwald says.

The Penn State chapter of KDR first made national headlines in March. In addition to hazing pledges, some fraternity members allegedly hosted a private Facebook page filled with images of nude, unconscious women.

Penn State has since banned the KDR chapter for three years, and an unspecified number of members are facing additional discipline through the Office of Student Conduct.

Also on Monday, the national KDR organization announced that it had expelled 38 members from the Penn State chapter of the fraternity for violating the organization’s values.


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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