By, Megan Fleming
March 20, 2015
Since the story broke that police were investigating a private Facebook page belonging to Kappa Delta Rho, new information has come to light, press conferences have been held, and statements have been made. Here’s a comprehensive summary of what we know so far and the events associated with the case, according to documents and police information:
UPDATE (March 25): State College Police reported via Twitter that a few women and KDR brothers have reviewed the evidence available and are helping to identify potential victims. A university press release advised anyone with additional information on the KDR allegations to contact the Office of Student Conduct or State College Police as soon as possible.
The first invite-only Facebook page was called “Covert Business Transactions.” According to court documents, it was reportedly shut down when a victim saw an inappropriate picture of herself on a fraternity member’s computer. The victim allegedly threatened the fraternity, and “Covert Business Transactions” was shut down. The second page, “2.0,” reportedly started shortly after. When brought to police attention, there were 144 members in “2.0.”
A former member of KDR went to police about the private Facebook pages in January, according to the probable cause affidavit obtained by Onward State.
A Glimpse Inside 2.0
One of the pieces of evidence is a screenshot of comments on one of the pictures. A member of the Facebook page commented, “373,217 views. All from us.” Another responded, “make that 373,218.” There were 144 members of the private Facebook page.
A comment exchange on a picture posted to the private page ended with, “lol delete these or we will be on cnn in a week.” The comment and the previous replies were in response to a picture in which the victim appears to be passed out.
The national fraternity placed the chapter on full-chapter suspension, in addition to conducting a full-membership review and reorganization. President Eric Barron said the university is working with the fraternity’s national headquarters to determine if the fraternity will have a presence at Penn State. “If so, we will help set the conditions for that future presence,” he said.
In a statement to the Penn State community, Barron said, “We are dealing with the early stages of a criminal investigation. There are still no named suspects in this case, nor charges — and we cannot speculate on the details of this matter without potentially compromising the investigation itself.”
Barron also applauded the IFC “for taking swift action to suspend the activities of this chapter on March 3 when we learned of the existence of this social media site.” He went on further to address the concerns of those who believe the university failed to inform the public.
“Some people have asked why the community is learning about this matter only 14 days later — suggesting there was a lag in notification. To clarify, while we have a tremendous partnership with our local law enforcement, it is not the practice of State College Police (or any police agency) to turn over an active, ongoing investigation. Doing so could potentially compromise the investigation and the ability to interview witnesses or others. We generally receive information when investigations are completed. There are usually named suspects and specific criminal charges attached. In this case, the police hit a roadblock and needed assistance in finding avenues to speak with fraternity members and alumni.”
The police informant provided police with multiple printouts of posts from “2.0.” Most of the names available in the evidence are nicknames, according to court documents.
The probable cause affidavit, dated January 30, describes how the informant logged into his laptop to show officers the page was still active. He explained to officers how people needed to be invited to the page, and offered his account to help police. The document goes on to describe the specifics requested in the warrant.
Police told WJAC they received warrants and searched several computers and the Facebook page, but everything was wiped clean. The department is trying to identify all possible suspects and victims. Lieutenant Keith Robb told Onward State the department is working with Facebook to obtain more evidence from the pages, but added, “it probably will take a while to get any results.”
The investigations by the police, university, and IFC are still ongoing.
In an interview with Onward State, President Barron reiterated that due process is a top concern.
“There’s a criminal process going on, and a university process that’s going on. And when we get to the end and make a decision it’s going to be the right one,” he said. “I’m not going to minimize this in any way, shape or form, this is behavior that is unacceptable and we are going to have to make sure we do a proper investigation and we bring these people to justice. I don’t think any comments that either seek to minimize (the situation) or seek to rush the university to judgment are wise.”
Barron pondered the possible re-evaluation of Greek life. The IFC responded to this in a statement, echoing Barron’s concerns.
Less than 24 hours after the story broke, dozens of local and national media correspondents attended a joint press conference between State College Police and university officials.
Philly Mag posted an interview with an anonymous brother of Kappa Delta Rho, who defended the actions and called the Facebook group a “satire” of fraternity stereotypes.
Onward State’s Melissa McCleery wrote, “I’m ashamed that these men are students of my university. I’m ashamed they sing ‘may no act of ours bring shame’ and then turn around to do just that.”
The Daily Collegian published an editorial calling on the university to make an example of KDR. “And as a university that tried to pride itself on being in the forefront of sexual assault and harassment, our lack of immediate action, lack of harsh punishment, goes directly against that. It’s an understatement to say we are disappointed.”
The KDR house at 420 E. Prospect Ave. was vandalized with graffiti that appears to say “tear it down.”
A student-organized rally in support of victims is planned on the steps of Old Main at 12 p.m. today. According to the event’s description on Facebook, organizers wish to speak out against the actions of the members of the fraternity and the university’s administration.