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Two Penn State Students Charged with Fraternity Vandalism

by on December 09, 2013 12:19 PM

Two Penn State students are now charged with hate crimes following the anti-Semetic vandalism spree at a traditionally Jewish fraternity. 

Penn State students Eric Hyland, 19, of Export and Hayden Grom, 19, of New Fairfield, Conn., allegedly spray-painted images of swastikas and other anti-Semitic grafitti outside Beta Sigma Beta and neighboring Delta Sigma Phi.

The pair is charged with ethnic intimidation, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct as a result of vandalism that occurred in early November. Police say the two teens spray-painted 12 vehicles, a dumpster and a garage.

Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers says that both Hyland and Grom were members of the Acacia fraternity, and have since been expelled from the fraternity. She says the Acacia National Fraternity is in the process of issuing a response to the incident.

Powers says it is the university's understanding that both men operated on their own and not as members of the fraternity.

"This is an unfortunate and hurtful incident and we are glad that so many people were able to assist police in determining the individuals responsible," Powers says. "Hateful behavior in any form is not acceptable and perpetrators should be held accountable."

The Acacia Fraternity released a statement Monday, saying that the organization will continue to work with State College Police to make sure the Hyland and Grom are brought to justice.

"The actions of these two individuals are contrary to the core values of Acacia and in no way represent the Penn State Chapter as a whole, nor any of the other 37 Acacia chapters and colonies across North America," The Acacia fraternity said in a statement. "The Chapter has been a pioneer in fostering diversity across religious, ethnic and racial lines, and the membership of today's brotherhood proudly reflects this history."

Investigators say Hyland and Grom both confessed last week.

The graffiti consisted mostly of anti-Semitic language and symbols, but also included sexually graphic words, sexual images and the initialls "K.K.K." Police say most of the graffiti was targeted toward Beta Sigma Beta. 

The evidence against Hyland and Grom came from surveillance footage of the crime, as well as information given to police by a tipster who identified Hyland and Grom as the people who committed the vandalism, police say.

Police also found three other people who identified the two as the people who spray painted the images.

Police also credit both alumni and active members Beta Sigma Beta as well as the Penn State Inter-fraternity Council for helped solve the case.

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Adam Lidgett is a freelance reporter who has covered news and feature stories in State College and Centre County.
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