7 sorority sisters charged with hazing, assault at UM initiation

Pledge says she was assaulted during initiation

March 02, 2011|By Jenna Johnson, The Washington Post

Prince George's County police have charged seven University of Maryland, College Park sorority sisters with assaulting and hazing a pledge during initiation in October.

The student told police that she was assaulted by current or former members of Zeta Phi Beta sorority on at least three occasions, according to charging documents.

Those charged are: Bridget Blount, 24; Monika Young, 23; Zakiya Shivers, 26; Tymesha Pendleton, 26; Kandyce Jackson, 20; Amber Bijou, 22; and Montressa Hammond, 24. Most of the women are scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.

The Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life at College Park suspended recognition of the sorority in November "for this failure to comply with 'membership intake' guidelines," department director Matt Supple said in a statement.

He said the university was later notified that the Prince George's County Police were investigating the accusations. "The recognition of Zeta Phi Beta will remain suspended until the outcome of any and all police investigations," he said in the statement.

The student told police she was trying to join Zeta Phi Beta when the assaults occurred. The women are accused of pushing the pledge into a wall, hitting her arms and repeatedly striking her with an oak paddle, according to charging documents. Police say the assaults all occurred off campus and resulted in "severe bruising" on the student's arms and chest.

The student withdrew from the sorority and reported the hazing to university officials, who suspended the sorority indefinitely in November, according to The Diamondback student newspaper. University officials then contacted police.

Other hazing allegations have arisen at the College Park campus.

In 2004, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity's charter was suspended by the national organization after a member filed a complaint, triggering an investigation into hazing allegations.

The university investigated allegations of hazing and underage alcohol drinking in its athletic program in 2000, after an anonymous e-mail was sent to school officials, accusing nearly a dozen teams of offenses including taking high school recruits to bars to hazing new athletes at the school.

A former University of Maryland student who was beaten severely as part of a hazing ritual was awarded $375,000 for punitive damages against Omega Psi Phi fraternity in 1997, four years after leaving the school.

At Frostburg State University, three students were forced out of school and 15 others were disciplined in 1999 for hazing of new pledges at the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.

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