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Published: Wednesday, 3/9/2005

Student suing UT, sorority over hazing

A University of Toledo student is suing the school and the president of a sorority for injuries she said were caused in a hazing incident last year.

Jonetta Reed filed the lawsuit last week in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. She said she was paddled on the buttocks and thighs and subjected to other incidents as part of the initiation into the Xi Beta Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority.

Angelia M. Brown, who is president of the chapter, and Lydia C. Thomas are accused of paddling Ms. Reed. They were named as defendants in the complaint, which was assigned to Judge Charles Wittenberg. She is seeking in excess of $25,000 in damages.

Ms. Reed claimed the two women also kept her awake for long hours, forced her to do maid services and errands, and used vulgar and demeaning language during the initiation.

Ms. Reed said she was bruised and suffered internal bleeding because of the paddling and underwent emergency medical treatment for the injuries.

Her attorney, Matt Fech, said the paddling occurred March 1, 2004, and the other incidents happened prior to that.

The university, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, and the international headquarters of the sorority also were named as defendants.

While the university permits initiation into student organizations, it forbids hazing activities that may cause or create an unnecessary risk to the physical or mental health of students.

Such "hazing" acts include paddling, causing excess fatigue, either mental or physical, and preventing someone from getting at least six hours sleep in any 24-hour period.

Lori Edgeworth, UT's director of student judicial affairs and Greek life, said investigations are conducted in conjunction with campus police when a complaint is received.

However, Ms. Edgeworth said Ms. Reed did not file a complaint with her office.

Ms. Brown and Ms. Thomas could not be reached for comment. Jennifer Jones, a spokesman for the international office of Sigma Gamma Rho in Cary, N.C., said the organization was aware of the lawsuit, but would not comment.

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