Student Arrested In UTC Sorority Hazing Incidents - Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: National

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Student Arrested In UTC Sorority Hazing Incidents

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Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 12:00 am

Seirra Smith has been arrested in connection with hazing allegations against some UTC members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Ms. Smith turned herself in on two counts of simple assault after warrants for her arrest were signed late last night.

A UTC student being initiated into a sorority has alleged she was punched and kicked, winding up in the hospital with a concussion.

Police have been looking into the series of hazing incidents reported to have occurred last month involving members of the UTC chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

On Wednesday afternoon, UTC officials said actions had been taken against the sorority.

Chuck Cantrell, UTC spokesperson, said, "University officials are working with the Chattanooga City Police to investigate charges of hazing by members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The Dean of Students Office has placed the chapter under a Cease and Desist order, meaning it is suspended from all activities.

"Further, all current members of the sorority are on a No Contact order, prohibiting them from having any contact with those going through the membership process. The University continues to investigate the matter, and further disciplinary actions are expected against individual members of the sorority.

"The Chattanooga City Police and the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office are investigating possible criminal charges beyond student disciplinary actions.

"Our campus has a zero tolerance policy toward hazing, which is supported by local and state laws. Most student organizations abide by these policies and understand that participation in organizations should be based on friendship and camaraderie and not humiliation and abuse. We take reports of hazing very seriously, and we will take all appropriate measures and disciplinary actions to ensure the safety of our students and to punish those who break these laws."

A report was taken on April 10 from Jasmine Johnson and her mother Karen Drake, accusing five members of the sorority in three separate incidents of hazing in which Ms. Johnson was punched in the head, chest and stomach; kicked in the stomach and back; and sprayed in the face with vinegar.

After one of the incidents, Ms. Johnson told police that she had to seek medical attention for a concussion, bruising and contusions.

Suspects mentioned in the allegation were Seirra Smith, Jada Davis, Rikkee Lee, Chelsey Lay and Tarekia Dentley.

Police said Wednesday, "Charges are pending further investigation due to the nature of the assaults."

Ms. Johnson said on March 20 she was told to be at the First Tennessee Pavilion next to Finley Stadium. She said she was approached by Ms. Smith, a sorority member and parliamentarian.

She said Ms. Smith began punching her in the side of the head. She said Ms. Smith did this several times while two others girls were behind her.

She said one of the girls poured ice-cold water on her head, while the other girl had a water gun and began shooting vinegar on her. She said the vinegar was shot into her eyes, causing them to burn.

Ms. Johnson said she was told on another occasion to be at the track at Brainerd High School. She said Ms. Smith again approached her along with Ms. Davis and Ms. Lee. She said they began to pour chocolate syrup and milk over her head.

She said Ms. Smith then broke eggs over her hair and head. Then Ms. Smith placed an egg on her chest and punched her in the chest, breaking the egg.

She said Ms. Smith next placed an egg on her stomach and punched her in the stomach. She said as she rolled over, holding her stomach from being punched, Ms. Smith kicked her in the stomach. She said a short time later she noticed she was bleeding in her private area.

She said she was also paddled with a wooden paddle bearing the Delat triange on her legs and knuckles.

She said she attended a ceremony on March 24 in which she was "pinned" and accepted into the sorority. She said she was still bleeding and was suffering from extreme headaches and stomach pains.

She said it was then she told her mother what had happened.

Mrs. Drake took her daughter to Parkridge East Hospital. She was found to be suffering from a concussion, bruising and contusions to the stomach.

Mrs. Drake reported the incidents to the sorority and was told it would be handled internally.

Police said the student and her mother later were at UTC for a meeting with the organization. While parked there, a vehicle pulled up behind them and continued to pull closer and closer to their vehicle.

Police said once the student got out of the car, the occupants (sorority members) pulled up to the victim's car and made the statement, "B—-, you better watch your back."

Following this incident, the victim and her mother contacted a lawyer and filed a report with UTC and the Chattanooga Police Department.

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