UF frat accused of beating pledges

Up to 13 could be charged in hazing investigation

This Kappa Alpha Psi sign was one of several found in the attic of a home where members of the fraternity once lived.
This Kappa Alpha Psi sign was one of several found in the attic of a home where members of the fraternity once lived.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Another University of Florida fraternity is under investigation in connection with hazing, and police say as many as 13 men could be facing criminal charges.

The men from the Gainesville Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity are accused of beating pledges with wooden canes.

One witness told police he was beaten 150 times on the back side. Another said he had to go to the hospital because of the hazing.

Just last month, police began an investigation into another fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, on similar hazing abuse accusations.

There is a connection to the two hazing abuse cases. UF says while police were investigating hazing abuse allegations with Alpha Phi Alpha last month, one of their witnesses began talking about abuse coming from another fraternity.

That caused investigators to open up a whole new case, one that turned up several potential victims.

UF student Matt Brandt lives in a house that was once filled with members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Brandt went up to his attic Tuesday and pulled down posters and signs that he says were left behind.

"Before we moved in and when we were looking at the place, you know, they had all their stuff on the wall," Brandt said. "So you know, I've seen the canes on the wall before we moved in."

As many as 13 men are facing criminal charges after some students came forward and told police they were beaten with wooden canes as part of a hazing ritual.

According to a report, witnesses told campus police they were hit with canes 30 to 150 times a day.

The beatings took place on five or six occasions between April 2010 and January 2011, according to the report.

One of the students said he and others were "struck so hard ... the canes were broken across their buttocks," according to the report.

The website for the Florida Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi says it's down for maintenance. Jen Day Shaw, the university's dean of students, says Kappa Alpha Psi's national office placed the local chapter on a cease and desist order.

"They cannot have any social functions," Shaw said. "They can't wear their letters. They really are not interacting as a group."

Michael Joachin lives in one apartment complex where police believe the beatings took place. He said he's heard about hazing incidents before, but never in much detail.

"They're really secretive about it, so they wouldn't tell anybody who was actually pledging in the frat about that," the 21-year-old UF student said. "Nobody really talks about it."

"I can't imagine being beat like that," Brandt said. "I mean, I don't see that as worth it at all."

Investigators believe it could take weeks before any formal charges are filed. Under state hazing laws, if charged, it would be a first-degree misdemeanor offense.

Just four of the 13 accused are still students.