In the wake of an LSU student's recent hospitalization, LSU officials notified Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on Tuesday that the organization is being suspended while the university investigates "potential violations of the LSU Code of Student Conduct."

UpdateAn LSU hazing investigation, one student hospitalized, another dead: How the 3 are connected

In a letter dated Oct. 20, LSU's Associate Dean of Students Jonathan Sanders wrote to the fraternity president that the "interim suspension" for the fraternity means that members are no longer allowed to host or participate in social activities or conduct meetings. The letter also says that newly initiated members cannot have any contact with active members who have been part of the fraternity for longer. 

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office was informed of the LSU police department's investigation into a potential hazing incident that led to the student's hospitalization. He said officials are interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence to determine whether the circumstances meet the criminal definition of hazing that was enacted in state law following the 2017 death of Max Gruver, an LSU freshman who died following a night of coerced drinking at his new fraternity house.

"This case looks unbelievably similar to the Gruver case. There are a lot of parallels, with one exception: Everyone who has been questioned so far is cooperating with the investigation," Moore said. "We simply want to know what happened in order to take the appropriate actions."

Moore emphasized that the investigation is ongoing and that it remains unclear whether anyone will face criminal charges.

The Gruver case led to several hazing charges and one of his fraternity brothers, Matthew Naquin, was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to five years in prison, though half of the sentence was suspended. Prosecutors fought for access to Naquin's cell phone after he refused to turn over his password, and ultimately were successful in getting the FBI to unlock the phone.

Evidence was later presented at trial showing Naquin had deleted hundreds of files from his phone shortly after authorities started investigating Gruver's death.

Gruver had been at LSU a month when he died of alcohol poisoning in what authorities have described as a hazing ritual dubbed "Bible study" at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house. Gruver and other pledges were told to chug 190-proof liquor if they incorrectly answered questions about the fraternity or could not recite the Greek alphabet.

In response to Gruver's death, the state legislature passed the Max Gruver Act the following year, which redefined criminal hazing and enacted harsher penalties for people found guilty of the offense. 

LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said Monday that the university was "looking into the circumstances that occurred off campus overnight leading to him being hospitalized."

One month ago, LSU Police reported that they were investigating a hazing incident involving Phi Kappa Psi. The incident allegedly happened Sept. 13 and was reported to police the next day.

The complaint "details a criminal hazing that occurred in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity," according to a police report.

This is a developing story. Check back later for more information. 


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.