SAN DIEGO (KSWB) — “He went right into San Diego State with high SAT scores. Smart guy, great boy and his family is devastated,” said attorney James Frantz, who announced Friday a lawsuit on behalf of Benjamin Brennan, a former SDSU student.
The lawsuit claims Brennan, then a 19-year-old freshman from Pennsylvania, was nearly killed during a hazing incident at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house in April 2021.
Attorneys say during an “initiation ritual,” Brennan was detained by frat members who forced him to consume potentially deadly amounts of alcohol and drugs.
“750 milliliters of straight rum — you’re gonna drink that. You have 30 minutes to consume it. And by the way, we’re going to give you some other things to make it easier for you: marijuana and strong tobacco,” said Frantz.
Attorneys say the teenager then passed out and became unresponsive.
“So they grab his lifeless body, put it in their car … couple of the members take it over to the local emergency room and when they got there, what did they do? They left him there. They didn’t identify who he was,” said Frantz.
Attorneys say Brennan went into a coma, given a 1% chance of survival. He pulled through but continues to suffer from severe physical and emotional injuries.
“If he had died it could have been a manslaughter charge,” said Frantz.
The lawsuit claims frat members conspired and tried to cover up their actions, telling investigators they had nothing to do with it.
Nine frat members are named in the lawsuit. Attorneys said San Diego State also conducted an investigation for honor code violations.
“We have been able to confirm that seven of the students who were involved in this hazing were ultimately suspended from school,” said attorney Mike Perez.
Attorneys say at the time, the fraternity was already under suspension from the university for more than a year.
The fraternity and the national fraternal organization that manages Kappa Sigma are also named in the lawsuit.
Attorneys also passed along a message from the victim’s family.
“The family wants everyone to know this needs to stop. They don’t want this happening to anyone else, any other students, children and their family members. It’s just terrible what’s happened here,” said Frantz.
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Attorneys said there could also be a criminal case as SDPD just wrapped up its investigation, which was passed on to the district attorney’s office.
SDSU sent the following statement to News 2’s sister station, KSWB, on Friday:
“SDSU does not have a comment on the lawsuit, in which it is not named. However, the university can speak to its ongoing approach to educate students in an effort to mitigate behavioral and other issues within our SDSU community.
Kappa Sigma was suspended from SDSU in 2020 and expelled in 2022. The chapter appealed the university’s decision earlier this year, and the university has upheld the expulsion. The chapter is not an approved, recognized student organization (RSO), and has not been since May 2020.”