Former San Jose State University student Courtney Howard sues school and sorority for hazing
San Jose Mercury News
September 4, 2010
When honor student Courtney Howard pledged to join a sorority at San Jose State University, she sought the support of close-knit sisters in the school's small African-American community.
Instead, what she got was ritualized hazing that included a nearly monthlong string of beatings, punching, kicking and paddling, according to a lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court this week -- an episode that experts say is far too common among African-American Greek organizations.
Howard, 20, has sued eight students, the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority and the university, saying it failed to investigate and protect her from retaliation by sorority members after reporting the 2008 incident. She has since withdrawn from SJSU and transferred to the University of Southern California, saying she didn't feel safe.
Four of the SJSU students -- Princess Odom, Monique Hughes, Nicole Remble and Joslyn Beard -- have already been convicted of misdemeanor hazing in criminal court, sentenced to 90 days in jail and two years probation.
"There was physical violence," said Howard's attorney, Angela Reddock of Los Angeles. Howard is seeking unspecified damages. "Any number of steps could have been taken by the university to change her living situation and provide security, but that did not happen."
SJSU spokesman Larry Carr would not comment on the lawsuit, but he did say the university has suspended Sigma Gamma Rho until at least 2016 after concluding
the chapter had violated anti-hazing regulations.