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Four U. of Texas Fraternity Members Sentenced For Hazing

July 10, 1991 GMT

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Four fraternity members were sentenced for hazing for beating a pledge and setting his clothing afire, and three fraternities were fined $10,000 each as part of a probe of the organizations at the University of Texas.

″What you see today is escalating punishment for the organizations and the individuals, and if the problems persist, the punishments will continue to escalate,″ Travis County Attorney Ken Oden said Tuesday.

Matthew Dennis, Christopher Temple, Richard Asel and Todd Bowden all pleaded no contest to misdemeanor hazing charges for abusing a pledge of the university’s now-disbanded Sigma Nu chapter last November.

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The pledge, Mark Allen Sanders, was beaten, lifted by his underwear and had his jeans set afire. Sanders has filed a civil suit seeking millions in damages because of the incident.

All four fraternity members received probation and fines of $500 plus court costs. Three of them also were sentenced to 15 or 30 days in jail. Attorneys said that at the discression of the sheriff, the jail time could be served under a community service or work-release program.

Arrest warrants were issued for four other former Sigma Nu members, Oden said.

Also Tuesday, the Phi Gamma Delta, Pi Kappa Alpha and Beta Theta Pi fraternities pleaded no contest to organizational hazing in separate cases involving assault, harassment and destruction of property.

Each fraternity was fined $10,000, although community service may be substituted for some of the payment, lawyers said. Phi Gamma Delta also was ordered to pay $5,800 in restitution.

Sanders referred requests for comment to his lawyer, Bill Whitehurst, who called the sentences ″pretty light.″

The probe of the univeristy’s 28 fraternities was continuing, Oden said.

Chris Strong, president of the university’s Interfraternity Council, said the hazing cases ″were the actions of a few individuals, which have unfortunately tainted the reputations of all the fraternities.″