Lawsuit: ‘Death march’ was fraternity’s last blow in California student’s death

The parents of a UC Riverside student who died the day after hiking Mt. Rubidoux in what their attorney says was an illegal hazing ritual sued the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity on Friday, alleging wrongful death.

Tyler Hilliard, 20, died Sept. 16, 2018. The lawsuit filed by attorney V. James DeSimone on behalf of Myeasha Kimble and William Hilliard also alleges the fraternity — its national corporation and its local chapter — violated the state law against hazing and was negligent. The lawsuit did not identify a cause of death or list the amount of money being sought.

“Tyler had been subjected to lengthy hazing rituals that lasted for weeks if not months, terminating in his final death march at Mount Rubidoux,” says the lawsuit, which was filed in Superior Court in Riverside.

Fraternity spokesman Eric Webb, in an emailed statement Saturday, said his organization does not comment on pending litigation. He did add, “The Fraternity does not condone and strictly prohibits any illegal acts, including any hazing in any form, whether physical or mental, as a term or condition of membership in the organization.”

The national office said at the time of Hilliard’s death that it was investigating the circumstances and had suspended the UCR chapter. The university, which is not named as a defendant, banished the fraternity from campus in the spring “as a result of risk management concerns,” the UCR website says.

Lawsuit: ‘Death march’ was fraternity’s last blow in California student’s death

Colleges infantilizing Adult students by turning their phones into surveillance machines

When Syracuse University freshmen walk into professor Jeff Rubin’s Introduction to Information Technologies class, seven small Bluetooth beacons hidden around the Grant Auditorium lecture hall connect with an app on their smartphones and boost their “attendance points.”

And when they skip class? The SpotterEDU app sees that, too, logging their absence into a campus database that tracks them over time and can sink their grade. It also alerts Rubin, who later contacts students to ask where they’ve been. His 340-person lecture has never been so full.

“They want those points,” he said. “They know I’m watching and acting on it. So, behaviorally, they change.”

Short-range phone sensors and campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students’ academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health.

But some professors and education advocates argue that the systems represent a new low in intrusive technology, breaching students’ privacy on a massive scale. The tracking systems, they worry, will infantilize students in the very place where they’re expected to grow into adults, further training them to see surveillance as a normal part of living, whether they like it or not.

Family sues UC Riverside fraternity over son’s death allegedly linked to hazing

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) — More than a year after Tyler Hilliard died from what his family alleges was a hazing incident, his family is suing the UC Riverside fraternity they claim is responsible for his death.

“We are suffering the loss,” Myeasha Hilliard, Tyler’s mother, said. “We suffer with it every day.”

Tyler, 20, was about to begin his junior year at University of California Riverside when he started pledging the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

On Sept. 15, 2018 fraternity members took the pledges to Mount Rubidoux in Riverside for a run.

“Tyler was subjected to harmful, humiliating and life-threatening hazing rituals that ended at Mount Roubidoux where he apparently collapsed and was taken by ambulance to the hospital where he died the following day,” Attorney Toni Jaramilla said. “We believe he was kicked in the chest as part of a hazing ritual.”

The family is suing the fraternity and the UC Riverside chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. They are not suing the university. Riverside police are investigating.

Hazing in the state of California is illegal.

The fraternity’s website states the organization is against hazing.

A week before Tyler died, his parents say he ended up in the hospital after an alleged hazing incident.

Tyler’s father, William, said: “We’d like for anyone to come forward with more information than what we’ve already received. And I’m sure there’s a whole lot more than what we have knowledge of.”

His mother says there were other people up the mountain with Tyler and she hopes more of them will come forward.

We reached out to the fraternity’s national headquarters in Baltimore asking for comment. So far they haven’t gotten back to us.

Shocking moment Texas State University student, 22, was left with brain damaged in unprovoked attack by members of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity who thought he belonged to a rival social club

This is the shocking moment a Texas State University student was left with brain damage after being attacked allegedly by Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members.

Nikolas Panagiotopoulos, 22, claims he was set upon by at least half a dozen members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity’s Eta Rho chapter in San Marcos on October 27.

Panagiotopoulos, who lives across the street from the frat house, claims he was walking by at about 2.30am when he was attacked.

He claims the frat members mistakenly believed he was a member of a different social group when they started heckling, taunting and harassing him.

The attack allegedly occurred when Panagiotopoulos tried to flee.

Cellphone footage of the incident, which was filmed by a woman, captured Panagiotopoulos being tackled and then brutally beaten.

The woman filming could be heard yelling for the group to ‘leave him alone’ and that she would ‘call the cops’ if they didn’t stop.

Panagiotopoulos claims the attack left him with a fractured skull and brain damage.

He filed a lawsuit last week against the fraternity seeking $1 million in damages.

The lawsuit names fraternity members Peter Piralla and Kevin Jimenez, as well as fraternity alumni Josue Jimenez, as being among those who allegedly attacked Panagiotopoulos.

The father of the chapter’s then-vice president, Matthew Lawyer, said his son was inside the house when the incident occurred. He said he believed Panagiotopoulos was the one who started the confrontation.

Panagiotopoulos’ attorney Jay Harvey told KVUE that Panagiotopoulos was minding his own business in the moments before he was beaten unconscious.

‘Nik tries to run away,’ Harvey said. ‘This mob of these fraternity guys chase after him and continue to wail away on him, leaving him unconscious on the side of the street.’

Two months after the attack, Panagiotopoulos’ attorney said the student is still recovering from trauma to his spine and skull and requires a wheelchair to get around.

The senior, who was unable to finish his university coursework after the attack, has spent months in hospital and was advised to skip Christmas with his family in New York due to his injuries, according to the lawsuit.

He suffered brain damage, fractures to the skull, psychological trauma and emotional distress after the attack, his attorney said.

‘What’s lost in all of this is that Nik lives right next door to the frat house, so he’s constantly reminded of it,’ Panagiotopoulos’ other attorney, Sean McConnell, said.

‘He lives right across the street. So he’s constantly reminded of the frat and everything that happened to him that night.’

Panagiotopoulos is hoping to graduate in May 2020.

The $1 million lawsuit accuses the fraternity of failing to take responsibility for the unruliness of the mob outside the building.

His attorneys have started investigating the fraternity chapter, saying they should have known its members were aggressive.

They have also criticized the frat’s history of ‘encouraging’ heavy drinking.

The attorneys allege that the organization has a ‘history of encouraging consumption and over-consumption of alcohol’ and encourages ‘rivalries with members of other fraternities and social clubs’.

‘The attack was precipitated by a culture within the fraternity that encouraged drinking, bullying, and violence,’  the attorney said in a statement.

Texas State University said that they suspended the fraternity ‘immediately’ after the attack in October.

The fraternity was later banned for four years after they were found to have been ‘hazing’ new initiates.

Pledges at the University of Texas reported being placed in a dark, claustrophobic room, and had to finish a 500-piece puzzle while strobe lights flashed and dance music blared through speakers.

At the time, the CEO of the fraternity, Mark E. Timmes, agreed with the university’s decision and said: ‘Hazing has no place in the fraternity and is contrary to our fraternal values.’

The organization declined to comment further on an ongoing investigation

Auburn fraternity suspended after violations involving alcohol and physical abuse

An Auburn fraternity is being suspended for four years following violations of the University’s anti-hazing policy.

Delta Zeta, a chapter of Beta Theta Pi comprised of 164 undergraduate Auburn students, is being suspended for violations involving physical abuse, servitude and alcohol, according to letters obtained by The Plainsman that were addressed to past and present Beta Theta Pi members.

The incidents involving alcohol and physical abuse spanned several years, according to the letters, and “defied multiple interventions from the university, alumni and General Fraternity.”

Ryan Powell, director of Greek Life at Auburn, did not specify how long the University was aware of the incidents involving alcohol and physical abuse.

“Auburn University was made aware of the misconduct through a report and subsequent conduct investigation,” Powell said in an email.

One letter states that “the activities that led to [a four-year suspension] were serious.”

“All told, these violations establish a dangerous pattern of behavior and a level of operational risk that is not acceptable for any Beta chapter,” one of the letter states.

Indiana University investigating fraternity for assault, alleged anti-Semitic and racist remarks

Indiana university has ordered that one of its fraternities halt all activities while the university investigates a physical assault and alleged discriminatory remarks made at the fraternity house last week.

Indiana University Bloomington placed its chapter of Pi Kappa Phi on a cease-and-desist Saturday, prohibiting members from hosting or participating in organizational activities, the university said in a statement Sunday. The order will remain in effect while the university and law enforcement investigate “an incident involving physical assault, as well as allegations of anti-Semitic and racial slurs.”

In addition to the cease-and-desist, the university’s Interfraternity Council, the student-run governing body of the school’s fraternities, has suspended Pi Kappa Phi’s activities.

UCF suspends sorority amid hazing accusations

ORLANDO, Fla. — The University of Central Florida has suspended a sorority amid complaints that members forced others to drink and take drugs until they blacked out during hazing.

An anonymous online post described a friend’s initiation into a group within Pi Beta Phi known as the “mafia.” The post said the friend was pressured to take the drug known as Molly and was forced to take shots until she blacked out.

UCF sent the sorority a letter Nov. 21 demanding it cease all activities during an investigation. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5.

The sorority tells the Orland Sentinel the allegations are “of utmost concern.” It says it’s investigating the actions of individual members and don’t believe the full chapter was involved.

UCF’s chapter of fraternity Sigma Kappa was also suspended amid hazing accusations.


Information from: Orlando Sentinel,