University of Houston fraternity responds to hazing lawsuit filed by former student

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A day after a former University of Houston student filed a lawsuit against a fraternity, the organization is defending itself.

For three days, Jared Munoz says he underwent a horrific fraternity experience. He shared his story with Eyewitness News exclusively on Wednesday.

He said he was deprived of food, water and suffered a lacerated spleen. This week, he filed a million dollar lawsuit against Pi Kappa Alpha and his former frat brothers.

This story is all too familiar for David Easlick.

"They seem to be universal," Easlick said. "It's not one particular fraternity. It's not one particular region. It just is all over the place."

Easlick served as an national chapter's executive director, but now he serves as an expert in court on the issues surrounding hazing.

"If I had a son that was in a fraternity age right now, I would say, 'Don't even think about it,'" Easlick said.

Easlick said the problem is pledges are looking for a party house, and when trouble arises, national chapters will say they had no idea.

"They can control it," Easlick said. "They know what's going on. They have chapter consultants out there twice a year. They have contacts with the schools."

University of Houston suspended Pi Kappa Alpha last year. It was indicted for a misdemeanor charge for the hazing incident.

In the lawsuit, Munoz cites 45 cases of death, injury and hazing involving the fraternity from across the country.

Pi Kappa Alpha sent the following statement:

The Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity was notified of a civil lawsuit filed on September 19th involving former members of the now suspended Epsilon Eta Chapter at The University of Houston. Pi Kappa Alpha does not tolerate hazing, maltreatment of members, or any activities that do not treat individuals with dignity and respect. The International Fraternity suspended Epsilon Eta Chapter's Charter after it was made aware of the allegations of hazing by Mr. Munoz. The University of Houston later suspended the chapter. The International Fraternity sympathizes with Mr. Munoz in his injuries and is supportive of any action which holds the responsible individuals accountable for the reprehensible and illegal acts alleged. To further the point, chapter delegates from across North America unanimously adopted a resolution at the 2018 Convention that fully supports the civil and criminal prosecution of individual members for acts of hazing. The Fraternity was disappointed to learn the local district attorney decided not to file criminal charges against the individuals who allegedly caused direct harm to Mr. Munoz. The lawsuit filed by Mr. Munoz and his attorney contains numerous misrepresentations and factual inaccuracies regarding the International Fraternity's organizational status, operations, and its relationship with Epsilon Eta Chapter. The allegations of a bribe are absolutely false. Mr. Munoz initiated a request for compensation after lying to the police and the University of Houston about the circumstances surrounding his injury for more than six months following the incident. The International Fraternity is confident the facts of this matter will come out as the litigation proceeds.

Late Thursday, Munoz and his attorney released this statement:

Jared Munoz did not initiate any request for payment of money. Mr. Munoz telephoned The International Fraternity to report the events of the hazing, to request an investigation, and to request that the individuals involved be held accountable for their actions. After this report of hazing, the Fraternity had someone contact him about signing a Release and Non-Disclosure Agreement in exchange for $4,100.00, which he declined. Jared Munoz did not lie concerning the criminal acts he endured. Under immense pressure from the fraternity and its members to deny that there were any hazing or other criminal activities, he downplayed the hazing and attributed his injuries to a "football game," which in fact was the "glow stick game" that caused his lacerated spleen. The social and psychological pressures placed on victims not to report the crime is a part of the guilt that is placed on victims by the offenders, and only serves to protect the offenders and the fraternity that allows hazing, bullying and other predatory behavior to continue. The Pi Kappa Alpha states that it "does not tolerate hazing, maltreatment of members, or any activities that do not treat individuals with respect and dignity." If this were true, then there would have been policies and procedures in place to safeguard and ensure that these heinous and criminal activities do not occur, no less occur again and again and again. The sympathy and support for Mr. Munoz offered by Pi Kapppa Alpha is acknowledged and appreciated. However, to the extent that it is an exculpatory comment intended to shift the blame to the individual fraternal members and away from itself and its duties to protect its members, it rings hollow and is specious.
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