HARRISBURG — A Penn State University fraternity was suspended for a year Tuesday, March 17 after police began investigating allegations that members used a private, invitation-only Facebook page to post photos of nude and partly nude women, some apparently asleep or passed out.
A former member of Kappa Delta Rho 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 Tuesday by The Associated Press.
The ex-member also provided authorities with printouts from the page.
The fraternity’s national executive director, Joe Rosenberg, told the Penn State chapter in a letter on Tuesday that it is 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, policies and property by the chapter.”
Chapter officials, who can appeal the decision, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
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 community’s values and expectations,” Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs, said in a news release.
Sims said the school continues to investigate, and vowed that the university would find those responsible and hold them accountable.
Police said anyone who posted the photos could face misdemeanor charges of harassment or invasion of privacy, with a fine as the most likely sentence.
An investigation of 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.”
Penn State’s Interfraternity Council said a full review of Kappa Delta Rho’s conduct will be launched.
According to the ex-fraternity member who went to police, a second page dubbed “2.0” was started in about April 2014 after a woman depicted on the first Facebook page, called “Covert Business Transactions,” complained.
The informant said the woman was visiting the fraternity when a member accidentally left his Facebook page logged in, and she noticed a topless photograph of her had been posted to the group.
Robb told the AP she wanted the photo removed but did not wish to press charges.
“A lot of that is probably what we’re going to end up with, people who don’t want anything done, just these photos removed,” Robb said. “That’s already done.”
The investigation was first reported by WJAC-TV in Johnstown.
According to the warrant, the fraternity’s page had 144 active members that included both students and alumni.
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.
Police said the informant who visited the police station provided brief explanations about individual photos. One, he said, showed a woman vomiting in a member’s room. Another, he said, showed “the type of stuff that happens at KDR.” Two other images showed strippers hired by the fraternity for a party.
Some of the posts included with the warrant were images of cellphone text exchanges, including one from a woman apparently concerned about a casual sexual encounter the night before and whether birth control was used.