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The Daily Wildcat


UA student suing Sigma Chi for false defamation

Selena Quintanilla
Sigma Chi member walks up to the Sigma Chi fraternity house on First Street and Vine Avenue on Thursday, Oct. 21.

A former pledge member is suing the Beta Phi chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity on campus for false defamation.

According to the lawsuit, the fraternity chapter was placed on probation by the UA from Oct. 29, 2014 to Dec. 21, 2015, prohibiting the fraternity “from hosting, attending or participating in any organizational events.”

The former pledge member and plaintiff, Tyler Alev, said the fraternity hosted an off-campus party for its new members and the new members of the Alpha Phi sorority on Oct. 7, 2015.

One of Alpha Phi’s new sorority members, an underage female, became intoxicated by alcohol and cocaine and was later hospitalized.

Alev alleged he had no contact with the sorority’s new member, but active members of the fraternity “agreed or conspired to blame the plaintiff for the drug intoxication of the sorority girl,” according to the lawsuit.

Alev also alleged active member and defendant, Mark Stills, hazed him by burning his bicep with a cigarette.

Five days after the party, Alev said members of the fraternity read a false statement from the new sorority member at a Sigma Chi meeting stating Alev had forced her to do cocaine.

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The fraternity allegedly placed the blame on Alev to avoid further reparations related to probation.

Alev alleges defendants Kyle Frattali and Kyle Gunderson told the group he was the fraternity member the Alpha Phi new member had identified.

In the complaint Alev filed on Oct. 7, he alleged this was a “calculated falsehood” designed to damage his reputation. Since the fraternity meeting, Alev has been removed from the fraternity and said his friendships and relationships have suffered.

Alev also alleges he was selected to take the blame by active members because he was one of the few Hispanic members of the chapter.

The full list of defendants includes the president of the Beta Phi chapter of Sigma Chi, Brian Kewin, and members Frattali, Gunderson, Stills, Tyler Rice, Luke Treffers, Daniel Benita, Matt Senger and Caden Williams.

Kewin had no comment and Michael Church, executive director of Sigma Chi Fraternity Headquarters, said he does not comment on active litigation.

In addition to suing for reputational damages, Alev also said he has suffered from damages of mental distress.

William Risner, Alev’s attorney, declined to comment.

Associate Professor of Law Jane Bambauer said suing for defamation requires “publication,” meaning the defaming statement must be spoken to at least one other person. If it can be proven the defamation was done maliciously, a plaintiff may collect punitive damages.

Alev is not only alleging the defendants committed all these acts, but also the acts were done with an “evil mind as defined by Arizona law,” the lawsuit says, enabling him to collect these punitive or exemplary damages, should the Court agree with him.

According to UA Fraternity and Sorority Program’s website, Sigma Chi is facing a $3,050 monetary sanction, as well as University Probation until Dec. 1, 2018.

The website states probation means “any violation of the prohibited conduct items in the Student Code of Conduct, including failure to comply with these sanctions, will lead to further disciplinary action which could include loss of recognition.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Follow Jessica Suriano on Twitter.

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