Seven students at the University of Mississippi have been charged with cyber-stalking a fellow student who blew the whistle on their fraternity’s hazing activities.
College hazing is an initiation ceremony in which freshmen undertake humiliating and sometimes dangerous feats to gain admittance into a fraternity or sorority.
Ole Miss Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members Baylor Reynolds, aged 19; Christian Parten, 20; Cole Goretski, 20; Miles Baker, 19; Peyton Newcomb, 20; Walker Holden, 19; and Wyatt Johnson, 20, are accused of sending harassing text messages and emails to a student who used to be a member of their fraternity.
Cyber-stalking messages allegedly sent by the defendants included violent, racist, and anti-Semitic content.
The alleged harassment began after the former fraternity member reported the performance of hazing rituals to university officials. The hazing activity took place in the fraternity house in the fall of 2021.
During his own hazing ceremony, which took place in 2020, the cyber-stalking victim had bleach sprayed in his mouth.
Last month, the University of Mississippi suspended Reynolds, Parten, Goretski, Baker, Newcomb, Holden, and Johnson from campus. The activities of the Gamma Iota chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha of the University of Mississippi were suspended for four years.
Lafayette County Detention Center officials arrested and charged the seven with felony cyber-stalking on December 10. All seven defendants were released on the day of their arrest after each made an initial court appearance and posted a $5,000 bond.
The seven accused fraternity members are scheduled to appear before the Lafayette County Circuit Court on February 28, according to the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office.
Lisa Stone, spokesperson for the University of Mississippi, told the Clarion Ledger that the university is aware that cyber-stalking charges have been brought against the seven students, and that it is cooperating with law enforcement.
Stone said: “As is evidenced by the suspension of all operations of the Gamma Iota chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha of the University of Mississippi effective until May 1, 2025, hazing and related behavior, including cyber-stalking, that put student health and safety at risk are contrary to the University of Mississippi Creed and will not be tolerated.”