THE INVESTIGATORS: LSU fraternity suspended as campus investigates possible violations; DA calls it ‘unbelievably similar’ to Maxwell Gruver case

Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:49 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana State University (LSU) suspended activities for its chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity as campus officials investigate “if violations of the law, LSU policy, or other applicable policies occurred.”

A letter provided to WAFB confirms the suspension is connected to activities involving members of the chapter on Monday, Oct. 19.

A prepared statement says the suspension was agreed upon by both campus officials and Phi Kappa Psi headquarters.

At the same time, the university announced it’s investigating the circumstances behind a student’s hospitalization.

In a statement, university officials confirm to WAFB a student was brought to the hospital Monday after an off-campus incident overnight Sunday.

While a source tells the 9News Investigators this case was related to alcohol, university officials will not say that officially, but they do offer prayers as the student continues to be treated in the hospital.

“Our thoughts are obviously with the family and with the student and we hope, like everyone else does, that he’s recovering,” said Jim Sabourin, vice president of communications for LSU.

The LSU Police Department will first determine if any criminal laws were broken before the university will look into whether school policies were violated.

“We support organizations' ability to gather and to be productive and to even have fun, but we have rules around that and when it appears that rules are violated, then obviously the university has to step in and take action,” said Sabourin.

The same fraternity was under investigation in September for hazing allegations. That investigation remains ongoing, according to university officials.

RELATED STORY>>> One of two hazing complaints at LSU reportedly unfounded

WAFB Lead Investigator Scottie Hunter asked Sabourin if that’s something that will be taken into consideration as the school looks into the newest potential violations of university policy.

“Certainly it’s something we have to take into consideration, but each incident that may be reported to us is investigated completely independently,” said Sabourin.

All activities and gatherings on or off campus have been halted for the frat unless it’s to help with the investigation.

Almost one year after the Max Gruver case came to a close, university leaders say they hope students get the message and realize how serious these cases can be.

“We can’t be there 24/7 and we can’t monitor everything students do, so we hope they understand the rules and understand the penalties associated with those,” Sabourin added.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III says his office was informed of the LSU Police Department’s investigation into a potential hazing incident that led to the student’s hospitalization.

He says officials are interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence to determine whether the circumstances meet the criminal definition of hazing that was enacted in state law following the 2017 hazing death of Maxwell Gruver, an LSU freshman who died following a night of coerced drinking at his new fraternity house.

“This case looks unbelievably similar to the Gruver case. There are a lot of parallels, with one exception: Everyone who has been questioned so far is cooperating with the investigation,” Moore said. “We simply want to know what happened in order to take the appropriate actions.”

Moore emphasizes the investigation is ongoing and that it remains unclear whether anyone will face criminal charges.

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