Alpha Tau Omega charter revoked, IU chapter closed after sex video surfaces


An Indiana University fraternity is on suspension pending an investigation into hazing, and now its national chapter has announced that it's revoking the charter and closing the chapter.

The university announced the suspension of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity late Wednesday. According to university spokesperson Mark Land, the allegations "perpetuate sexual misconduct." The chapter will not be allowed to host social events, attend fraternity events, sponsor new members and other activities while under suspension.

This comes after online sites claim a video surfaced online, showing a graphic sexual situation.Thursday afternoon, the National Alpha Tau Omega office issued this statement:

"The National Office of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity has revoked the charter and closed the Delta Alpha chapter at Indiana University following the release of a highly inappropriate and vulgar video.

The video from a smartphone shows a sex act that occurred last week. The event was unauthorized involving about half of the chapter’s membership. The National Fraternity investigation revealed the 21-year-old man in the video was an initiated member, not a pledge, and the two women in the video were exotic dancers hired by one of the members. Our investigation revealed that no pledge was compelled to participate. Regardless, the actions are contrary to the ideals and principles of Alpha Tau Omega and are highly offensive.

The National Fraternity, with strong encouragement from local alumni advisors, investigated the incident and took swift disciplinary action. The revocation of the charter means the chapter is closed, effective immediately and all chapter activities must cease. The National Fraternity will continue to work closely with Indiana University officials."

The Bloomington chapter of the fraternity is marking its 100th year on campus, and it won several awards in August. Its chapter president was recognized for overcoming "severe operational difficulties."

There are nearly 150 members at IU. It is unclear if they could be facing trouble beyond their fraternity's closure.

Land included in the statement released Wednesday night: "The university is fully committed to fostering a culture of care and respect on our campuses. Allegations of actions that run contrary to that commitment are taken very seriously and will be investigated vigorously."

This isn't the first time the chapter has been in trouble. In March of 2010, about two thirds of the fraternity's members were kicked out, after an investigation into hazing and alcohol violations. Fewer than 20 of 126 members were allowed to remain in IU's chapter.

Thursday morning, Alpha Tau Omega CEO Wynn Smiley released a statement about the IU investigation, saying:

“Alpha Tau Omega National Fraternity has suspended all operations of the Delta Alpha chapter at Indiana University as we begin our investigation. We are working with the University. The video is highly offensive and is antithetical to the values of Alpha Tau Omega. If confirmed, swift disciplinary action will be taken. The men who were a part of such a vulgar incident do not represent the fraternity and damage the fraternity’s name for thousands of ATO undergraduates and alumni across the country.”

Students on the Bloomington campus don't appear at all sympathetic, calling the behavior of the fraternity members shocking and disgusting.

By early afternoon Thursday, workers were cutting down the sign from the front of the Alpha Tau Omega house. Some of the fraternity's members watched quietly, some flashed obscene gestures, and no one wanted to talk about it.

But students who saw the video that led to the suspension had plenty to say.

"It is absolutely shocking. I wouldn't believe something like that was happening, like, on our campus," said Dianna Nbulsi.

"I was surprised. It was kinda sick, I kinda new something bad was going to happen. Nothing good comes from that," said Charlie Payne.

University administrators say they became aware of the video Wednesday night. In a prepared statement, they applauded the national fraternity's "swift and strong action."

"As soon as I saw it, I knew it wasn't going to go over well," said student Jack Wolfe.

After workers removed the sign from the fraternity house, members defiantly flew an Alpha Tau Omega flag from an upstairs window.

Thursday evening, some students at the fraternity were packing up.

"Figured out where you're going to live now?" Eyewitness News asked.

"No comment," replied one student.

But others had more to say.

"False advertising is what I'd like to say," said another fraternity member. "I don't want to get into it. A lot of false accusations and that hurts what the fraternity system is all about. When you're spreading rumors about things that aren't true."

In a written statement, the fraternity's national office called the video "highly inappropriate and vulgar." Students not in the house agreed.

"It's bee commented on social media, people taking pictures of the house," said Patrick Ford, who is not in the fraternity. "It's stuff like this that keeps me from rushing frats. You feel bad for the kids involved, but at the same time, they understand what they're getting into."

"There's a clear moral line. I think it was crossed,"says Ben Pitman, who one day hopes to pledge a fraternity.

"If there's a way to prevent this in the future from happening, we will definitely take those measures," said Brian Singer vice president of the IU Interfraternity Council. "Our condolences go out to anyone who was hurt by this incident, by the actions that were taken by the fraternity. We realize they are significant and are taking it very seriously."

Dawn Edwards, a long time IU staffer, remembered last winter's uproar over racist comments caught on video on a University of Oklahoma fraternity bus. 

"Don't they watch the news? Didn't they see what happened on that bus with SAE? Don't they pay attention. Don't they think?" she said about the IU fraternity.

Indiana University is still investigating, looking at individuals and possible violations of the school's code of student conduct.