Southeast hazing case referred to prosecutor

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Southeast Missouri State University officials announced Friday that an alleged hazing incident involving members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority has been referred to Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle to determine whether criminal charges will be filed.

Swingle said he expects his investigation may take up to two weeks.

"No one is in custody," he said.

He had no other comment on the case.

Until Swingle's investigation is completed, the university will not discuss the incident, said Art Wallhausen, associate to the president.

University representative Ann K. Hayes said in a written statement the university's Department of Public Safety completed an investigation into the hazing report Thursday. The report has been forwarded to the university's Office of Judicial Affairs, which will begin the process of terminating the sorority's affiliation with the university, she said.

The national Zeta Phi Beta organization notified the university that the local chapter had been suspended as a result of the alleged hazing incident.

Under Missouri law, hazing is a misdemeanor, unless it creates a substantial risk to life. Then the charge is a felony, carrying a maximum prison term of seven years.

Hayes said any students found to be involved in a hazing incident will face possible disciplinary action.

In 1994, Southeast student Michael Davis died of injuries suffered in a hazing incident involving Kappa Alpha Psi. That fraternity was banned from the campus.

carel@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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