ASU's Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter has been suspended since October following a September lawsuit regarding its hazing process for pledges, or potential members, a University spokesperson confirmed this week.
Christian Leventhal, a communications student and former Kappa Sigma pledge, and his parents filed the complaint last fall detailing the severe hazing done by the fraternity's collegiate members.
The complaint detailed all that happens behind closed doors while pledges, often college freshmen like Leventhal, are put through extreme tests. Over the course of nearly three months in fall 2018, Leventhal and around 55 other ASU students were subjected to excessive alcohol consumption, confinement to hot sheds and sleepless nights.
Kappa Sigma pledges were forced to put a combination of different hot sauces, or pickles marinated in hot sauce, in their underwear, run over three miles, assume a plank-like position with only elbows and toes on the ground over 500 times and eat M&M's off a floor on which people had vomited, urinated and defecated, according to the civil complaint filed in the Maricopa County superior court.
Leventhal and his parents are suing Kappa Sigma national fraternity, its ASU chapter and 28 individuals on 10 separate counts, including gross negligence, false imprisonment and punitive damages.
Of the 28 individuals listed in the amended complaint, three have already been dismissed.
The hazing took place in several off-campus houses, one of which the members called "Auschwitz," and another was the "crack house," which had boarded-up windows and tarps on the walls, the complaint said. One incident, where pledges were forced to smoke marijuana and tobacco out of a bong, took place in front of a church.
Leventhal also had to drive while fraternity members and alumni covered his eyes, eat 15 onions in a single sitting, eat raw or infected fish with its scales still on, break milk cartons in a grocery store and sit shirtless and blindfolded with 30 others in a small, hot shed with someone guarding the door, according to the complaint.
Pledges were forced to dive for a 20-pound brick and tread water for long periods of time in a freezing pool while fully clothed, in which Leventhal "could barely breathe and nearly drowned," the complaint said.
He had to clean fraternity members' houses while also "having eggs, butter, flour, water, mayonnaise, sriracha or flour with water poured on him or thrown in his face," according to the complaint.
During "hell week," the culmination of hazing that took place daily from midnight to 7 a.m., Leventhal slept only three hours over four days. When he did sleep, it was outside on rocks wearing nothing but a sweatshirt, the lawsuit said.
For those four days, his only permitted sustenance was tequila and Skittles.
Each day he had just five minutes to chug an entire bottle of tequila. He was only allowed to leave for class, which was "nearly impossible" given his "physical deteriorated condition," the complaint said.
Hazers said they tracked and monitored the pledges' locations — and should a fraternity member have found a pledge sleeping on campus — there would be punishment and more severe hazing, the complaint said.
Following hell week, Leventhal was hospitalized. He had severe damage to his pancreas, resulting in diabetes, according to the lawsuit. Leventhal arrived at the hospital close to a "likely fatal diabetic coma due to his enormously elevated blood-sugar level," according to the complaint. He also suffered chipped teeth, "dangerously severe weight loss" and a disease caused by fungus called thrush, the lawsuit said.
He was forced to medically withdraw for a semester and his education was set back a year.
Leventhal did not respond to request for comment. Leventhal's attorney, Pat McGroder III, said he will not comment on pending litigation.
Pledge educator Dylan Sproul, the person "in charge of the hazing," was removed from his position as a result of his severe hazing, but he continued to serve in his position "through proxies" for the rest of the semester, the complaint said.
This is not the first fraternity-involved lawsuit McGroder has been a part of. McGroder represented the mother of the 19-year-old Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge who drowned in Tempe Town Lake in 2012 after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.
An ASU spokesperson, who confirmed ASU's Kappa Sigma chapter has been suspended since Oct. 19, said the University is not in a position to comment as it is not a listed defendant. Kappa Sigma's ASU current chapter president and Sproul did not respond to requests for comment. Kappa Sigma Fraternity's Executive Director Mitchell Wilson declined to comment, saying the organization does not comment on pending litigation.
In the 2017-18 school year, Kappa Sigma at ASU had 133 members, according to the latest Annual Greek Report breakdown on the University's website.
Listed in the complaint were four houses in which the hazing occurred, and all four houses had Tempe police called on them sometime between July 2017 and October 2020 for various reasons such as welfare checks, loud parties and criminal and liquor law violations, the complaint said. Within the same time frame, one house had Tempe police called 35 separate times, according to the complaint.
Around July 2018, just a few months before Leventhal began pledging for Kappa Sigma at ASU, UA's Kappa Sigma chapter lost university recognition for hosting parties with minors consuming alcohol, assaulting security personnel and hiding a slush fund for off-campus activities, according to the complaint.
While still early in the legal process, the pending litigation awaits formal responses, or answers, from most listed defendants.
As of Jan. 21, only one answer was reported to have been filed from one of the defendants. Once the answers are collected, both the defendants and the plaintiff will file disclosure statements, which contain factual allegations, legal theories upon which the factual allegations will be judged and disclosure of liability issues, causation issues and damage issues.
Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.
Ellie Borst is the executive editor of The State Press, overseeing the publication and its four departments: online, magazine, multimedia and engagement. She plans to graduate in May 2022 with her master's in legal studies and got her bachelor's in journalism in 2021. Previous roles she has held since joining SP in 2018 include digital managing editor, magazine managing editor, community and culture desk editor, and arts and culture reporter.