HARRISBURG, Pa. – Penn State intends to hold accountable the fraternity members who used a private, invitation-only Facebook page to post “appalling, offensive” photos of nude and partly nude women, some apparently asleep or passed out, a university official said.
Kappa Delta Rho was suspended for a year Tuesday after police began investigating the allegations.
A former fraternity member at the university’s flagship campus in State College tipped police off to the page, telling them in January that it had been used by members to share photos of “unsuspecting victims, drug sales and hazing,” according to a copy of a police warrant obtained by The Associated Press.
The ex-member also provided authorities with printouts from the page.
A Penn State administrator called the allegations a violation of the standards and values required for recognized student organizations.
“The evidence offered by the Facebook postings is appalling, offensive and inconsistent” with the university’s expectations, Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice-president for student affairs, said in a news release.
Sims said the school would find those responsible and hold them accountable.
The fraternity’s national executive director, Joe Rosenberg, told the Penn State chapter in a letter that it would be banned from most activities for the near future and must reorganize.
He said the suspension was “for the most serious misconduct, most serious disregard of fraternity rules.”
Chapter officials, who can appeal the decision, did not respond to messages seeking comment. A young man who answered the door Tuesday afternoon declined to identify himself and said the fraternity had no comment.
Police said anyone who posted the photos could face misdemeanour charges of harassment or invasion of privacy, with a fine being the most likely penalty.
According to the warrant, the fraternity’s page had 144 active members that included both students and alumni.
State College police said they first fielded the complaint on Jan. 18 and reported the matter to university administrators on March 3.
The informant’s computer “yielded information on two victims whose images would rise to the level of criminal action,” State College police Lt. Keith Robb said Tuesday.
Facebook was contacted to disable the site and to obtain more information for the investigation, Robb said.
Some of the postings involved nude women in “sexual or embarrassing positions,” the warrant reads. “It appears from the photos provided that the individuals in the photos are not aware that the photos had been taken.”
The investigation was first reported by WJAC-TV in Johnstown.
Penn State’s director of student conduct, Danny Shaha, told reporters that students are still living in the fraternity house. He said the house is privately owned, giving the university little control over it.
The photographs accompanying the warrant included images of fully nude and partly clothed women and a scene of a man appearing to grope a woman, her pants partly pulled down.