ORLANDO, Fla. - A panel of students and administrators found the University of Central Florida's Alpha Tau Omega fraternity in violation of hazing during a formal conduct hearing Tuesday.
The decision comes more than a month after UCF placed ATO on an emergency suspension following accusations that brothers beat blindfolded pledges while they exercised in buckets of ice water -- but fraternity officials say they were not found in violation of those specific allegations because they are not true.
Instead, the main issues the panel found enough evidence to find ATO to be in violation of hazing included forcing the pledges to complete mandatory study hours and for conducting a "forced reflection" activity, where pledges were made to stand in front of a mirror and say what they saw, ATO Chief Executive Officer Wynn Smiley told Local 6.
The hazing allegations were brought to light in early November in an unusual way, when David Stollman, a nationally known anti-hazing speaker, told UCF officials that a student who did not want to be identified reported ATO's alleged hazing to him instead of the university.
Based on the anonymous report Stollman shared, UCF took immediate action and suspended the fraternity without first holding a hearing.
When Tuesday's formal hearing was held more than a month later, Stollman gave testimony over the phone and spoke on behalf of the accuser -- who did not speak directly to the panel.
"We know nothing about this person," Smiley said, adding that "it would have been nice to be able to confront the person making the allegations" during a cross-examination, like people accused of crimes are able to do to their accuser in a court of law.
Smiley said he'd have to take a closer look at the evidence and final outcome before deciding whether he wants ATO to appeal. He also stressed how he believes the chapter is a strong one, and is known by the national office for making positive contributions to the community and hosting large scale philanthropy events.
Watch Local 6 for more on this story.
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