JSU: Arrests made in hazing incident
by Paige Rentz
Three Jacksonville men were arrested last week in connection with a hazing incident that occurred last year at a Jacksonville State University-affiliated fraternity.

Juston Patrick Daniel, 22, Benjamin Joshua Puckett, 23, and Rhyan Anthony Swanson, 24, were each arrested Friday on charges of first-degree assault and two counts of hazing. Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh confirmed Monday that the arrests were part of a set of grand jury indictments he announced last week stemming from a Nov. 26, 2011, incident involving a JSU fraternity. More indictments and arrests are expected to follow.

McVeigh said the assault charges are class B felonies that carry a sentence of 2 to 20 years in prison, and the two hazing charges are misdemeanors, one for actively committing hazing and one for failing to disrupt or report incidents of hazing.

While neither McVeigh nor JSU officials would name the fraternity involved last week, an attorney for the university named the fraternity in January as the Xi Xi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha. The fraternity has since been dismissed from the university, and Provost Rebecca Turner said last week that the incident was one of the worst the incidents of hazing the school has seen.

While no details have emerged from the investigations by the university or the district attorney’s office, a civil action filed by Jason Horton in Calhoun County Circuit Court lists a number of allegations. Court documents allege that the hazing incident lasted for more than four hours, during which time pledges were made to consume large quantities of alcohol, were struck with eggs and other flying objects and beaten for long periods of time with fists and paddles.

The complaint filed in July also claims that when Horton vomited blood the next day, active members of the chapters repeatedly told him that it was tomato sauce and discouraged him from seeking medical treatment. When he was taken to the hospital later that night, reads the complaint, he was bleeding internally and his urine was black, his liver enlarged and kidneys functioned at 50 percent. He had to stay in the hospital for 24 days to recover from his injuries.
© 2012