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More on the Honor Court Situation:
Dismissed VMI Cadets Take Finals
.c The Associated Press
By DAVID REED
ROANOKE, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Military Institute said Monday that six cadets expelled for lying about a spanking ritual will be allowed to take their final exams, and a federal judge will decide whether their punishment was proper.
The three freshmen and three seniors were expelled Friday night after a three-day trial before the student honor court.
On Monday, lawyers for the cadets asked U.S. District Judge James Turk to intervene, arguing that the students' constitutional due process rights were violated by student investigators.
The cadets have said that during a hazing investigation in February, student investigators dragged them out of bed between midnight and 2 a.m. for questioning.
An attorney speaking for all six cadets argued that the students' statements were coerced and that they weren't advised of their right to remain silent or seek outside advice.
``I don't know of any police organization that has the power to drag you out of bed in the middle of the night, hold you in a room against your will and force you to make a signed statement,'' Bernhardt Wruble told Turk.
Turk criticized VMI's method of investigating honor code violations.
``It just seems like Gestapo tactics,'' the judge said during the hearing.
VMI attorney Tabor Cronk defended the process.
``I don't see the great conflict between loyalty to one's fellow student and the honor system,'' Cronk said.
Lawyers for the cadets had also asked the judge to force VMI to allow them to take final exams. During a recess in the hearing, the school agreed to let the students take the exams, which are being taken this week and next week.
The freshmen were accused of lying to protect their senior mentors who spanked them with belts. The seniors were accused of lying about striking the male freshmen for breaking barracks rules.
VMI freshmen, known as rats because of their lowly status, endure a harsh system of discipline for most of their first year. Upperclassmen can force them to do physical exercise and run errands if they violate strict rules of conduct and appearance.
However, VMI forbids the striking of any cadet and calls for cadets to be expelled if the honor court finds them guilty of lying, cheating or stealing.
In an unrelated case, a county court grand jury returned hazing indictments Monday against three VMI upperclassmen accused of spanking a freshman last fall.
However, a special prosecutor said the case may get dismissed because VMI denies that hazing took place. The state's hazing law requires a finding by a school that a student was injured by hazing.
Update Re: Alleged Hazing Incident:
Grand jury indicts 3 from VMI on charges of hazing 3 VMI students indicted in student-whipping case
One interpretation of state law says any charge of hazing at a state college must be initiated by the college. But VMI didn't find the incidents to be hazing.
By MATT CHITTUM
THE ROANOKE TIMES
A former Virginia Military Institute freshman who was says he was struck with a belt and a coat hanger by his senior mentors got a taste of the satisfaction he's been seeking in the matter.
The three seniors who George Wade Jr., 20, of Henrico County, says whipped him -- John Gonzales of Mechanicsville, Charles Travers "Buck" Clemons of Richmond and Thomas Michael Upshaw of Milford -- were indicted on hazing charges Friday by a Lexington grand jury.
But the case is likely to face serious challenges, said Mike Irvine, the Buena Vista Commonwealth's Attorney who was appointed special prosecutor. The indictments were obtained without a finding by VMI that hazing occurred.
Under the common interpretation of Virginia's anti-hazing law, any charge of hazing at a state college must be initiated by the college. The charge must be reported to the commonwealth's attorney, who must present it to a grand jury.
Wade alleges that he and five other VMI freshmen were beaten with a belt -- and once with a coat hanger -- on the buttocks and upper thighs by three VMI seniors. The beatings occurred about three times a week from Sept. 11 to mid-October, leaving the students with welts and bruises, Wade said.
After its own investigation, VMI suspended Gonzales and Clemons for a year and confined Upshaw to campus.
But VMI Superintendent Josiah Bunting declined to call the beatings hazing, which is defined by Virginia law only as "mistreatment" resulting in "bodily harm."
VMI issued a statement Monday standing by its finding.
Wade sought assault charges against the seniors in February, but after a state police investigation, Rockbridge-Lexington Commonwealth's Attorney Gordon Saunders decided not to place the charges.
At Wade's request, he asked in March for the appointment of the special prosecutor.
Irvine said he felt the allegations should be presented to the grand jury as a way for the community to determine whether or not criminal charges should be sought.
1994 Class Website Up and Running: Paul Whitmore '94 e-mails that the '94 website is up and running. He also asks that everyone excuse the mess as he continues to build it. Members of '94 are welcome to send Paul their info for the database and his e-mail address is Minister2B@aol.com.
Paul indicates that the website (http://members.aol.com/minister2b/vmi1994.htm)will be a 1994 database and will contain message boards, class history pages, class information update pages, and a tribute to those who are no longer with us.
Sounds pretty slick.
Alumni Association Board Meeting Minutes: I recently received a copy of the minutes from the April 4, 1998 meeting of the Alumni Association Board. I sent alumni office an e-mail asking if they could send me a copy of the minutes via e-mail (or a file attached to an e-mail) so I could pass along the minutes to our participants. While I'm waiting to hear back, I thought I'd go ahead and share a few sections which I have (ahem) retyped.
Superintendent's Remarks: The Superintendent spoke briefly on matters of interest including the current FTX Weekend where our cadets are spending time helping to clean up the National Park at Ft. Lee near the Petersburg Battleground.
General Bunting continued by telling the board members of the recent General Officer Conference held at VMI on the weekend of March 27-28, 1998. VMI alumni who made general officer and/or flag rank while in the military were invited to come to Lexington for this conference. Approximately 40 of the 95 eligible alumni attended and were briefed on the current programs at VMI.
The superintendent informed the board members about the endowment growth, the Honor Court, hazing problems, and of a recent retreat held for the Board of Visitors and other Alumni Agencies executives where a statement of need was prepared for future use in the upcoming campaign. Lastly, he stated that the barracks would be on line by the end of the summer.
A short period of questions and answers followed the superintendent's remarks.
Also from the Alumni Board Meeting Minutes......
VMI Foundation Report: Reporting for the VMI Foundation, Buddy Bryan told the Board of Directors that total giving for all agencies through March stood at nearly $10.9MM. He indicated that 1997-98 would at least be the second highest year on record. He then noted that the Foundation's Annual Fund was up by $75,000 compared to this time last year, with the number of alumni donors about the same. He closed by thanking the Board for their continued support.
Following the report by Mr. Bryan a motion was made and seconded that a resolution be written and presented to Mr. George H. "Skip" Roberts, Jr. '68 for his service to the Foundation, the Alumni Agencies and the Institute. The motion was unanimously approved.
I will provide more excerpts from the minutes in the next update.
Late Breaking Article in the Roanoke Times: The following
article appeared in today's edition of The Roanoke Times.
Friday, May 08, 1998
Female exchange student also no longer on campus
Sex at VMI ends in dismissal of senior
VMI Superintendent Josiah Bunting III said the incident involved conduct
that he will not tolerate.
By MATT CHITTUM
THE ROANOKE TIMES
A Virginia Military Institute senior caught having sexual relations
with a female exchange student in a barracks room has been dismissed
just before taking his last exams.
The exchange student, also a senior and one of several invited to
VMI to help with the assimilation of women into cadet life, was sent
back to Norwich University in Northfield, Vt.
It was the third incident of its kind in this first year of
co-education at the formerly all-male college.
"This involved conduct which I will not tolerate in the barracks,"
VMI Superintendent Josiah Bunting III said in a statement.
VMI did not release any details, but a source at VMI said the two
were caught naked on a cot in the male cadet's first-floor room.
The male senior would have begun his exams Monday and likely
graduated May 16, but instead will not be allowed to return to VMI.
His punishment was more severe than those involved in the other
incidents this year.
In an October incident, two first-year cadets who were caught
kissing in a darkened room were confined to barracks for several weeks.
In March, the same woman and a freshman, who she apparently had an
ongoing relationship with, were caught in a sexual encounter and
apparently had visited one another's rooms late at night on several
occasions. A cadet disciplinary committee recommended a two-semester
suspension for them, but the administration instead enacted a "severe
penalty" that included confinement for the rest of the year and part of
Asked about the severity of the latest penalty compared to the
earlier incidents, VMI spokesman Mike Strickler said "different
circumstances warrant different penalties."
That's it for this week.
Yours in the Spirit,
RB Lane '75
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