Prosecutor charges three sorority members with hazing

Monday, May 7, 2007

Three members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority at Southeast Missouri State University students were charged Monday with assault and hazing for incidents alleged to have occurred in February.

Darletta McKennis-Weems, 23, of Cape Girardeau of 522 N. Sprigg St., Ashley Moore, 22, of Dearmont residence hall, and Jessica Reynolds of 1710 N. Sprigg St., Apt. 608, each have been charged with one count of misdemeanor hazing and one count of misdemeanor third-degree assault.

McKennis-Weems is accused of requiring a sorority pledge to eat food mixed together from a garbage can and for spoon feeding the concoction to the pledge on or about Feb. 4.

Moore is accused of striking the woman with a closed fist on or about Feb. 15 .

Reynolds is accused of spraying the pledge in the face with liquid from a spray bottle on or about Feb. 15.

Summonses were issued for the three defendants to appear in court in Jackson on June 4 before Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle voiced dismay that students continue to haze fraternity and sorority pledges.

"It is frustrating that allegations like this occur, that hazing is apparently still going on," said Swingle.

Southeast said the university has tried to educate students about the ban on hazing for years, Swingle said.

The charges stem from an investigation by campus police who were alerted to the problem by the sorority's national organization.

"No victim came forward to us," said Art Wallhausen, associate to the president at Southeast.

The national organization has suspended the sorority chapter's charter. Without a national charter, the sorority won't be considered a campus organization, said Wallhausen.

Wallhausen said the university will take disciplinary actions against the students through the campus judicial process.

The students each could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine on the hazing charge, and up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine on the assault charge, Swingle said.

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