Florida State fraternity & # 39; Scumbag of the Week & # 39; hazing tradition led to brain damage student, lawsuit says – Washington Post

Florida State fraternity & # 39; Scumbag of the Week & # 39; hazing tradition led to brain damage student, lawsuit says – Washington Post

When Nicholas Mauricio arrived at the Memorial Hospital in Tallahassee on April 9, the 20-year-old student at Florida State University went into and out of consciousness. Blood from a cracked tooth seeped from his mouth. There was a clog the size of a golf ball on the back of his head. Doctors soon discovered that his skull was broken and he suffered from multiple strokes.

The brotherhood brothers whom Mauricio had brought, then a second-year, to the emergency room, allegedly lied to the doctors, claiming that he had fallen down the stairs while playing basketball on an outdoor terrace. But according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday and obtained by WTXL, Mauricio was the victim of a hazing ritual known as "Scumbag of the Week", a time-honored tradition at the Phi Tau chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi in the state of Florida .

The ritual once had a game-show-style wheel, which brotherhood brothers would turn to choose a punishment, the lawsuit says. The chosen "Scumbag of the Week" would only have to clean the student house, lick the floor or be hit in the face. But in the course of the years they stopped turning the wheel. Instead, the chapter reportedly called for nominations for "Scumbag of the Week" and then made the brother who got the most votes before the whole brotherhood got up and another member struck him in the face.

It was Mauricio's turn on 9 April.

The lawsuit claims that Oliver Walker, who was present at the meeting despite being considered an "alumnus in bad position" by the fraternity and not registered in the state of Florida, Mauricio "harder than he should have hit and harder than he meant. "Mauricio fell to the floor and was knocked unconscious by the impact.

After his fall, Mauricio spent five days at the hospital's neurological intensive care unit. The damage to his right frontal lobe has impaired his cognitive function and he is now suffering from memory problems, migraines, panic attacks and paranoia, according to the lawsuit. He has not returned to school.

Mauricio now charges the fraternity for negligence, claiming that Alpha Epsilon knew Pi's national leadership of the "Scumbag of the Week" tradition but failed to put an end to it. Walker, 20, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, is also faced with accusations of battery and culpable negligence, WCTV reports. He has not been arrested. Seven students in the executive board of the Phi Tau chapter in the state of Florida are also mentioned as defendants.

"He has a terrible brain injury," lawyer David Bianchi told WTXL of Mauricio. "Under the Florida law there are a number of claims that we are going to make, what we have done and hopefully we will be able to get a recovery for him that will take care of him in the future, because this has had a terrible impact on his life. "

Representatives for Alpha Epsilon Pi told the Tallahassee Democrat that the brotherhood had not been served with a copy of the lawsuit and declined to comment.

"Alpha Epsilon Pi International has not received the lawsuit at this time and finds it inappropriate to provide further comments until we have the opportunity to view and review it," said spokesman Jonathan M. Pierce Wednesday.

The process comes in the aftermath of the news that law enforcement officials will not charge criminal deprivation in this case.

State attorney Jack Campbell told the Tallahassee Democrat last week that under the budding images of Florida prosecutors have to prove that the perpetrators were planning to injure the victim and that the activity was intended as an initiation or requirement for membership.

"Were they outgrown under a common vernacular? Absolutely, was this bad acting? Yes," he told the Democrat on September 4. "Is this the type of behavior that I am able to pursue criminal charges for hazing? . "

It also comes at a time when Greek life in the state of Florida is under attack. In November, Andrew Coffey, promised by Pi Kappa Phi, died of alcohol poisoning at a party outside the campus organized by the fraternity after he was allegedly forced to drink a whole bottle of bourbon. Immediately thereafter, Florida State President John Thrasher suspended all fraternities and sorority clubs on campus. The temporary ban was lifted at the end of March, just a few weeks before the "Scumbag of the Week" incident, reported WCTV.

Bianchi, Mauricio's lawyer, also represents the Coffey family in court.

The day after the death of Coffey, officials of the Florida State received an anonymous complaint about the "humiliating" pledging process of Alpha Epsilon Pi. According to WTXL, the brotherhood was banned from the campus in January after university staff investigated it and found evidence of hazing. The brotherhood appealed to a Greek school board of the campus and that decision was annulled.

Mauricio's lawsuit alleges that Alpha Epsilon Pi attempted to control the damage in February by telling certain members that they would not be invited to join the brotherhood and to call them Alumnus in Bad Standing & # 39; to give. Both Walker and Mauricio got the & # 39; bad & # 39; "Mauricio was allowed to continue living in the house of the brotherhood." His lawsuit claims that all members, irrespective of their status, were invited to the meeting on 9 April.

"It is clear that Alpha Epsilon Pi International does not pass any kind of physical violence against anyone – whether humorous or not," Pierce, the spokesman for Alpha Epsilon Pi, told WTXL in August. "However, neither the young man who was injured nor the accused were brothers with a good reputation from Alpha Epsilon Pi, both tenants at the apartment complex where the meeting was held and were entitled to be on the premises."

The brotherhood was suspended in April after Florida State University officials heard about the criminal investigation, according to the Demoulan of Tallahassee.

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