May 2, 2012 – The attorney for a Penn State student who said she was badly hurt in a sorority hazing incident said he wants to see serious charges filed against those involved. Freshman Asya Trowell was punched and slapped to the point where she had two black eyes and was bleeding from the nose in early April, according to her attorney, Scott Cooper, and the account she gave to university police.
Trowell left Penn State and returned to her home in Maryland. Cooper said she doesn’t plan to return to Penn State.
He said that while the university is helping Trowell make the transition, there are concerns about what types of charges may be brought against Trowell’s alleged attackers. Cooper said if those involved are only charged with misdemeanors and they plead the charges down to harassment, it would be the equivalent of a parking ticket. Instead, he’d like to see the Centre County District Attorney’s Office look into the matter.
District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said she is aware of the case and the investigation being conducted by Penn State police. “Once the investigation is completed, we plan to expediently file the appropriate charges that are supported by the facts and the law, as we do in every case,” Parks Miller said. “As far as criticisms by anyone, since no one outside of law enforcement is privy to the many witness statements, the contents of the case file and the other evidence in this matter, it would be fruitless to respond to anyone’s theory about how we might or should handle this case,” Parks Miller said.
Penn State Police Chief Tyrone Parham said the incident was reported to his office April 9 and an investigation launched. “It’s still under police investigation so no charges have been filed at this point,” Parham said in an email. “Late last week, we sent preliminary allegation of student misconduct reports to the Office of Student Conduct.”
According to that Penn State police allegation of student conduct report, Trowell told police that while pledging for Omega Essence, a “little sisters” group with the fraternity Omega Psi Phi, she was kicked in the face and side of the head by another student to the point where she was bleeding from the nose and side of her head. Eventually, she was “seeing stars” and felt like she would pass out. The allegations outlined in the report took place primarily between April 3 and 4. Police interviewed Trow-ell’s roommates as well, who reportedly told police that Trowell had a black eye and appeared to have been beaten. The student Trowell said beat her denies the allegations, according to the report.
University spokeswoman Lisa Powers confirmed an investigation is ongoing and individuals are being interviewed in the case. Powers said Penn State could hold off on graduation for accused students until the university works through its judicial process. “We take accusations of this type very seriously, and we need to go through due process to determine exactly what may have happened and how to address it,” she said. “If Penn State students are found to be involved in this activity, whether they are with a recognized student group or not, sanctions will be imposed.”
Powers said the Omega Psi Phi Graduate Chapter that is being investigated is not a recognized student group at Penn State. Some of its members are graduate students, but others do not attend the university, she said. The Omega Essence, where the alleged hazing occurred, is a “little sister” group of the unrecognized fraternity. Powers said the national chapter of the fraternity has prohibited those organizations, also called auxiliary groups. She said Omega Essence was functioning independently of both the university and the national chapter of Omega Psi Phi.
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