Nine men have been charged with misdemeanors in Brockport in connection with a months-long hazing investigation at the College of Brockport.
The nine were connected to the “Delts,” an unsanctioned fraternity on campus. They were arrested Wednesday on charges of hazing, intent to cause physical injury and criminal nuisance. Two also face charges of animal neglect and torture.
Officials say six of the suspects are students.
“Here at the College of Brockport, we took a proactive approach. We looked into some allegations of hazing,” said University Police Chief Dan Vasile. “Due to that investigation, jointly with Brockport Police Department, we were able to make nine different arrests on hazing charges. We wanted to get out in front of this. We wanted to take a proactive approach and prevent a catastrophic event here.”
Brockport Police and University Police compared the Delts’ home on 104 Monroe Avenue to “Animal House,” saying there was trash everywhere including empty beverage bottles on the lawn, food trash in the home and improperly cleaned facilities. One officer said he wouldn’t even let their dog walk through there.
Brockport Police Lieutenant Mark Cuzzupoli addressed the animal cruelty charges. He said ranking organization members would torture a rat to threaten potential whistle blowers.
“The animal was a rat and it was used in our opinion to put fear into these young people who were pledging an unrecognized fraternity. They basically tortured the rat as an example of what would happen if someone were to come forward,” he said.
Yet, two potential pledges did speak out. These complaints allowed campus officials to begin investigating the Delts. And police used a search warrant to conduct the investigation at their Monroe Avenue house.
Cuzzupoli said he’s not ruling out further arrests. He added that current charges could be upgraded to felonies as they continue their investigation. According to authorities, the Delts aren’t the only unsanctioned fraternity on campus. There are at least three others.
“It’s just my opinion that the law should be stricter on these charges, higher than a misdemeanor. That’s my personal thinking but we can only do what we can within the law,” Cuzzupoli said.
Both police forces say they’ve been conducting this investigation for months, but ultimately have to rely on complaints to take up further action. Vasile said he tries to be more proactive by immediately investigating complaints and also using orientation and other campus events to educate students and families about campus safety concerns. He said one tip he often gives out is that freshmen can't join fraternities, so if a freshman student discusses their affiliation, there's an automatic red flag.
“Here at the college we do a lot of educational programs and activities,” he said. “Early on, before students even come here, they have to attend orientation, as well as the parents. I’m one of them that actually speaks at the parent orientation.”
Vasile says the investigation doesn’t end in the Delts’ arrest; they are investigating other unsanctioned fraternities as well.
“We are still taking to people and we intend to keep interviewing people as long as necessary,” he said.