College fraternity hazing is something that probably happens more often than people realize, but it’s highlighted once again as a dangerous practice that many young college students endure. This time, a pledge is striking back — in the form of a $4 million lawsuit.
WBAL TV 11 reports that a former pledge, Johnny Powell II, is suing five fraternity leaders, the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and the Baltimore Alumni Chapter. They have all been accused of hazing, negligence, gross negligence, and false imprisonment.
Powell was a junior attending Stevenson University at the time of the incidents. He wished to start a chapter at the university, so he pledged through the chapter at Coppin State University.
During the late nights and early mornings of February and March 2013, Powell and three other pledges were punched, caned, paddled, and slapped. Additionally, the pledges were forced to stand in buckets of ice water, drink alcohol, and do push ups on top of sharp bottlecaps.
Powell was eventually admitted to Franklin Square Hospital and needed five days of treatment to recover from injuries he sustained as a result of the hazing. Each year in the United States, 31 million people suffer injuries that are severe enough to need medical treatment.
This isn’t the first time that hazing has been the focus of attention in Maryland — just last year, according to The Huffington Post, the father of a pledge for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Salisbury University blew the whistle on the fraternity’s hazing practices and had intentions of suing.
Last month, a student at Bowie State University filed a $3 million lawsuit against the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity after enduring hazing practices similar to those Powell suffered through. According to NBC Washington, State Senator Jamie Raskin aims to strengthen Maryland’s lax hazing laws — an initiative he began a year ago this month.
The maximum punishment for hazing under Maryland’s law is a $500 fine, six months in jail, or both.