A hazy hazing case at Arkansas Tech 

A fraternity pledge spent nearly a month at UAMS.

click to enlarge DeShawn Scoggins image
  • DeShawn Scoggins

On April 21, DeShawn Scoggins, a 23-year-old Arkansas Tech University student, was taken to a Kappa Alpha Psi (KAP) fraternity meeting in the garage of a Russellville residence and beaten with a wooden cane and paddle so severely that he had to be admitted to the intensive care unit at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, according to an affidavit issued by the Pope County prosecutor's office. Scoggins' kidneys stopped functioning, he had fluid in his lungs, and doctors placed him in a medical coma. He didn't leave the hospital for another three weeks.

As a result, Arkansas Tech kicked its three-member chapter of KAP off campus, and on Aug. 22 and 24, three men, Deonte Bradley, 22; Stephen Bender, 24; and Calvin Williams, 26, were arrested and charged with second degree battery, which carries up to six years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

But a lawyer for Bradley, Bender and Williams said that the Pope County affidavit erred in the date of the meeting — that it was April 17, not April 21, and that on April 18, Scoggins attended class and football practice and played in a scrimmage game. (The State Police called it a transcription error.)

There are other messy parameters — primarily that Scoggins and Bradley are cousins, fellow football players and close friends. When Scoggins had nowhere to live, Bradley took him in, paid rent and bought his groceries for four months. As soon as Bradley heard about Scoggins' hospitalization, he drove to Little Rock and spent hours at Scoggins' bedside. Even now, Scoggins mourns the broken relationship. "At the end of the day, no matter what, Deonte will forever be my family. ... We hung out on a day to day basis ... just talking about life and success and what it takes to get there. That's all it was, we just talked, mentored each other," Scoggins said.

On the evening of April 17, Scoggins willingly went with Bradley and a group of fraternity brothers, and he agreed to wear a hood over his face. Police aren't releasing many details about the ongoing investigation, but the affidavit does note that Bradley organized the KAP meeting, arranged to use a friend's garage and, prior to the meeting, texted Scoggins: "Absolutely no breaking the cut nor screaming tonight. That shit will make us look bad." At the time, Bradley was president of the Tech chapter of KAP.

According to the affidavit, "DeShawn had heard that this [paddling] was part of the initiation process for the fraternity. He did not, however, know that the beating would be so severe." It also states that, on the morning after the fraternity meeting, Scoggins "was not feeling well ... during the evening meal he began throwing up," and shortly after, he was admitted to UAMS.

"[Scoggins] was hit hard in a football scrimmage, a day after whatever happened to him on April 17," Marion Humphrey, who represents Bender, Bradley and Williams, told the Times in an interview. "He went to the hospital on the 19th. So whatever happened on the 17th did not cause him to go to the hospital. ... Our contention is that he was injured at football on April 18," said Humphrey.

Steve Mullins, Arkansas Tech director of athletics, reviewed a video of the day's scrimmage and determined that there was nothing to suggest that Scoggins was injured during football. Arkansas Times has also reviewed the video. In a few plays, Scoggins blocks and once takes a hit and is dragged to the ground. He gets up immediately, and nothing about the play appears extraordinary. Scoggins remembers the tackle — "It wasn't a hard hit," he said. But after the tackle, at least three players say that Scoggins sat out the rest of the game.

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