Madison County

EKU student sues over hazing case

RICHMOND — Eastern Kentucky University student Brent Whiteside said he was beaten repeatedly for more than a month while he sought admission into the school's chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.

Nearly a year after he was hazed, Whiteside wants the national organization to take responsibility for the actions of its members.

Whiteside filed a lawsuit against Kappa Alpha Psi in Fayette Circuit Court. He is seeking an undetermined amount of punitive damages from the organization. He says Kappa Alpha Psi had a total disregard for his health, safety and welfare while he was a candidate for admission into the group.

Whiteside says in the lawsuit, filed Jan. 22, that the members of the EKU Kappa chapter repeatedly beat him with their hands, fists, feet, paddles and canes as part of initiation rituals from about Jan. 29, 2008, to March 7, 2008. He says members of the University of Kentucky's chapter of the fraternity joined the others in the rituals March 6 and repeatedly punched and slapped Whiteside.

Whiteside was later hospitalized with kidney failure.

Kappa Alpha Psi recklessly failed to supervise its members, which resulted in Whiteside's "serious and permanent physical injuries as well as mental impairment, anguish, embarrassment and humiliation," Whiteside says in the lawsuit.

Whiteside was unable to complete his spring 2008 semester at EKU, the lawsuit states. He also suffered lost wages and an impairment of his future earning capacity and will continue to "incur significant medical expenses."

Richard Lee Snow, the executive director of the Philadelphia-based fraternity, said Monday he had not seen a copy of the lawsuit, so he didn't have any comment. The lawsuit shows that a copy was sent to Snow at his Philadelphia office.

When he sees the lawsuit, "I don't know that I'll have any comment," he said.

Denotra Spruill Gunther, Whiteside's attorney, declined to comment.

Three fraternity members have been charged in relation to Whiteside's hazing. Thomas Barnes, Alonzo C. McGill and Gabriel M. McLaren pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault charges last month in Madison District Court. The men were sentenced to varying lengths of home incarceration according to their involvement in the hazing and cooperation with police.

McLaren, who was in charge of the pledge process within the fraternity, will serve 100 days. McGill, an alumnus of the chapter who lives in New York, will serve 70 days. Barnes was the first defendant to talk to police and will serve 30 days. Barnes and McLaren were undergraduates at EKU at the time of the assaults. McLaren has since graduated.

The three men could potentially have their records expunged by the end of the year.

Whiteside said last month that he was happy the criminal case had come to an end, but wasn't sure if he felt justice was served.

"I'm just looking to try to move on," he said.

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