RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The mother of an East Carolina University student killed in a wreck has filed a lawsuit against the school's chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, saying hazing played a role in her daughter's death.
Bernadette Carter, of Raleigh, accused the national office, its ECU chapter and its members of depriving the 2010 pledges of sleep and forcing them to engage in demeaning activities. Those activities led to the death of Victoria T'nya-Ann Carter, 20, the lawsuit claims.
Carter and another pledge died in a car driven by Kamil Arrington, a sorority pledge, who was taking the women to a hair appointment at 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 20, 2010, when she fell asleep at the wheel, the lawsuit said. The sorority's big sisters had selected Arrington as a designated driver.
Arrington, who pleaded guilty last year to two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, was suffering from "excessive and overwhelming fatigue, exhaustion and sleep deprivation," according to the lawsuit.
Carter amended a wrongful death suit in Nash County on Monday to add sorority members to the list of defendants.
The hazing activities, according to the lawsuit, culminated in Delta's "Hell Week," which was the last week of pledging. As part of the initiation process, 17 pledges had been forced to live together in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.
Among the hazing was the "Delta TV," in which pledges were forced to get into and hold a push-up position. They were required to do "wall sits" by putting their backs against the wall, then slide down until they were in a sitting position and maintain that stance for a lengthy time.
Officials at ECU investigated, but school spokeswoman Mary Schulken said officials had difficulty getting information from sorority members.
Schulken said ECU put the sorority on a two-year probation immediately. The national organization further investigated and suspended the ECU chapter until at least 2015.
A spokeswoman at the sorority's national headquarters in Washington, D.C., wasn't immediately available for comment Wednesday.
The Carter family is seeking damages, according to lawyer John McCabe, who is representing the mother. "There's no amount of money that's going to bring their daughter back," McCabe said. "What they really want to do is change the culture."