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Sigma Chi chapter at Westminster College suspended indefinitely

A fraternity in mid-Missouri is being shut down after an investigation reveals hazing and more.

The Sigma Chi International Headquarters and Westminster College has suspended all operations indefinitely at Westminster College in the Delta Tau chapter.

In a statement Wednesday night, Westminster college President Barney Forsythe said, “Earlier today , Westminster College received new evidence of offensive comments posted between Sigma Chi members on a private social media page. In light of this new information, Westminster and SCIH resolved to extend the chapter’s suspension indefinitely.”

Jacob Appelbaum, the chapter president of the Sigma Chi fraternity, told ABC 17 News Sunday is the last day for all members to move out of the house.

In an email to the Westminster faculty and staff, Westminster College President Barney Forsythe said the Sigma Chi International Headquarters investigated the fraternity after a member reported misconduct.

The investigation found there had been ongoing violations, including hazing, academic performance and leadership failures within the fraternity.

But Westminster College senior Timothy Aldred said there’s more to the allegations and said he saw a disturbing Facebook conversation between Sigma Chi fraternity members.

“There was a report released by a sophomore member of Sigma Chi with an audio recording of a pledge that night, screen shots from a Facebook page, just horrifically racist,” Aldred said. “I’ve seen some of them, horrifically racist, violent, just disgusting screenshot, disgusting comments being made.”

Aldred showed ABC 17 News the screenshots, which included, among other things, racist comments following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

ABC 17 News was able to get it confirmed with fraternity president Jacob Appelbaum, that the three young men involved in the Facebook conversation are indeed in the fraternity.

Rob Crouse with Westminster College said no students, or anyone else, have made any reports of hazing or other misconduct to the college.

“It was news to the college when they were notified by the nationals that someone within the brotherhood had reported the allegations and that they would let us know when they had finished their investigation,” Crouse told ABC 17 News.

Appelbaum, who did not want to appear on camera, said out of the 20 members living in the house, nine moved to on-campus housing and the rest moved to off-campus housing with the help of the college.

“The school has done nothing and allowed this house to subsume,” Aldred said. “You know, literally just consume, chew up all these incoming freshman. Naive 18-year-old freshman students and just chew them up and spit them out. It’s horrifying. I’m glad I’m graduating quite frankly.”

Crouse said Westminster College is conducting its own investigation into the fraternity as well.

“In addition to the chapter suspension, the College and SCIH will continue their investigations, and the College will take swift and appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion from the College if necessary, toward any individuals who have violated campus policies.,” Forsythe said in a statement. “Our policies were developed to create and maintain an environment conducive to learning and free from harassment and discrimination.”

This is not the first time this fraternity has been in trouble.

In January, a 22-year-old Columbia man pleaded guilty in Callaway County Court to first degree assault after apparently beating a fellow fraternity brother in 2013.

Ethan Muffett admitted to hitting the man in the face and head at the Sigma Chi fraternity house at Westminster College in September 2013.

The victim suffered facial fractures and injuries requiring surgery, and brain damage that has left him needing ongoing physical therapy.

A judge sentenced Muffett to 120 days of shock time in the Callaway County Jail and 100 hours of community service work with victims of traumatic brain injury. Muffett was also sentenced to 5 years probation for the assault.

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