JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New developments have surfaced following an I-TEAM investigation involving allegations of hazing at Edward Waters College (EWC) in Jacksonville.
Last week, the mother of a 23-year-old student told News4Jax her son was beaten and forced to take drugs during his initiation into the fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi. Now, we're hearing from the woman who was dating the pledge at the time, and she claims the alleged abuse was hidden from everyone.
"He was in agony after being paddled but that didn't stop him from wanting to pledge," she said.
The pledge's ex-girlfriend, who we are not identifying because she fears retaliation, said her then-boyfriend was willing to do almost anything to get into the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity -- even if it meant risking his health.
"He had that much loyalty for them, he had that much respect, he wanted it that bad," she said.
She said as part of the initiation process in the spring of 2018, her boyfriend was paddled violently with a wooden paddle on multiple occasions -- with the pain so intense he passed out. She told the I-TEAM about the steps he felt he had to take in order to hide everything from his family and friends.
"You can't go to the hospital because if you go to the hospital that then builds a case that if you're going to the hospital for these bruise that (are) so large, you either being tortured, it just builds a suspect case, okay, something's not right," she explained.
Instead, she said the Edward Waters College senior lived in agony for days and told us the paddling was worse on one side of his hip due to a previous injury.
The pledge's mother, who did file a police report, told us that pledges were also given synthetic drugs to make it a mental challenge. According to the police report, it was a synthetic drug commonly called "jig," which is a mixture of synthetic cocaine, LSD, and meth. She said her son became addicted and had to go to drug rehab.
The former girlfriend told us she gained the courage to speak out after witnessing first-hand the unraveling of her ex boyfriend's mental state.
"It (was) not until he started going through sort of kind of these mental breakdowns that I released the information to his mother that her son had been getting like tortured," she said.
She told the I-TEAM she wants to warn students and parents about the dangers associated with pledging a fraternity. She says this initiation went too far.
"They robbed me of my significant other, like mentally, physically," she said. "I mean he'd be hurting so bad that there were days that we couldn't go anywhere, we couldn't do anything, like his attitude changed."
"Proving your loyalty is one thing, getting beaten and being tortured is something totally different," she added.
Since the I-TEAM's original report aired July 25, the mother contacted us to say she received a letter from Edward Waters College. While the letter is dated June 24, 2019, the post mark on the envelope is July 22, 2019 -- the same day promotion for our investigation began to air. The letter reads in part:
"The Dean of Students office has received information that you have expressed concerns of an alleged incident of hazing. Edward Waters College takes these type (sic) of reports seriously. Individuals submitting a report are encouraged to provide as much specific detail as possible so that appropriate action can be taken to address the reported behavior."
The letter goes on to explain EWC's Hazing Prevention Policy and ways students can confidentially report information to college officials.