September 1, 2014  

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Arrest Made in Campus Assault Case; Fraternity Suspended Indefinitely

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In response to an assault last weekend, The University of Southern Mississippi University Police Department (UPD) has made an arrest while the school has removed campus recognition of and indefinitely suspended the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity from its Hattiesburg campus.

Arrested Wednesday night was 21-year-old Southern Miss senior Chase LaGarde, who is a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. He is charged with the aggravated assault of 19-year-old freshman Stuart Ramsey. According to UPD Police Chief Bob Hopkins, LaGarde agreed to turn himself in to law enforcement officers once he learned of the warrant for his arrest. LaGarde is in the Forrest County Jail awaiting his initial court appearance.

Wednesday night university officials and alumni representatives met with the members of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity informing them of the decisions regarding the local chapter. The national Sigma Phi Epsilon organization has revoked the charter of the chapter in concert with university actions. Residents of the fraternity house have until Friday to vacate the premises and permanently remove all individual and fraternity belongings.

“This action to close this fraternity comes not only from the apparent involvement of a member in an assault that occurred this weekend, but because of this chapter’s failure to govern its own members and comply with university rules over time,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Joe Paul. “These actions are immediate and for a yet undetermined amount of time. We will begin conversations with the national organization and alumni chapter early next year to determine how and when Sigma Phi Epsilon may return to campus.”

“The Fraternity expects chapters to hold members accountable for behavior that puts our members and others at risk,” said Brian Warren, Sigma Phi Epsilon national fraternity executive director. “Our chapter at Southern Mississippi has demonstrated a pattern of irresponsible behavior. We cannot allow this chapter to continue operations.”  

According to the UPD, Ramsey was assaulted late on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 4. Following the incident, the Jackson, Miss., student was hospitalized overnight. Since his discharge he has been assisting UPD in its investigation.

“Stuart has proven to be a resilient young man. We look forward to his return to school next semester and will continue to offer our support to him and his family toward that end,” stated Paul.