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Former pledge retaliated against after reporting fraternity hazing, court filing alleges

A former regional leader of Kappa Alpha Psi “mysteriously resigned” days after he launched an administrative investigation into a hazing incident that led to a $4 million lawsuit against the fraternity, according to an amended complaint filed this week.

Cornelius “Neil” Hudgins IV also issued cease-and-desist orders to the undergraduate chapter at Coppin State University as well as the Baltimore alumni chapter, which participated in the alleged hazing of Johnny Powell II, after Powell filed suit January, according to the amended complaint, filed in Prince George’s County Circuit Court. Hudgins’ replacement, Linwood J. Smith Jr., lifted the cease-and-desist orders and retaliated against Powell for publicly disclosing the hazing, according to the amended complaint.

The administrative hearing into Powell’s complaint was held in April but the fraternity has “refused to provide” written findings in the case, according to the complaint.

“You’re not trying to stop hazing, you’re trying to stop your liability,” said Jimmy A. Bell, Powell’s lawyer, on Thursday.

Bell, an Upper Marlboro solo practitioner, represents victims in two other hazing cases, including one against Kappa Alpha Psi’s Hyattsville/Landover alumni chapter.

Powell, a graduate of Stevenson University, was hoping to start a chapter at the Owings Mills school and pledged through Coppin State University between January and March of 2013 when he was allegedly punched, slapped, caned and paddled over the course of multiple sessions, according to his lawsuit. He went to the hospital after seeing urine in his blood following one session, according to his lawsuit.

Stevenson officials say the university does not have fraternity nor has plans currently in place to have them at the university.

A hearing on a defense request to transfer the case to Baltimore City Circuit Court is scheduled for next month, and a pretrial conference is scheduled for September.

The case is Johnny Powell II v. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., CAL15-00387.