Criminal investigation launched into TCU student branding

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by JIM DOUGLAS / WFAA-TV

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

wfaa.com

Posted on February 3, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 4 at 12:24 AM

FORT WORTH — The branding of a TCU student at an off-campus party last month is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

An attorney in the case says many people could eventually be held liable.

As News 8 first reported last week, the great grandson of Fort Worth publishing legend Amon Carter received second and third degree burns to his body in early January at a house in Breckenridge, Colorado that had been rented by several fraternity and sorority members.

Police in Colorado now confirm they have opened a criminal assault investigation.

Meanwhile, Amon Carter IV has just hired attorney Jerry Loftin, who says there is evidence of a cover-up.

Carter, a TCU sophomore who goes by the name of Chance, told News 8 that he had asked fraternity brothers to put a small brand on his buttock, but that he did not consent to the damage that was done.

The burns he received will require multiple surgeries.

Breckenbridge police say they have received a complaint from Carter, and that detectives have opened a criminal assault investigation. They are first attempting to determine whether the incident happened within their jurisdiction.

Carter's attorney calls the branding a clear case of hazing. "Hazing is a criminal act. It is a crime to haze. The fact that you say 'I have consent' is no defense," Loftin said.

Loftin says he has not seen a video of the incident shot that night, but those who have tell News 8 it shows Chance Carter being held down.

He has what his family calls "defensive wounds" on his hands, and severe bruising on his legs.

"There's a hazing law that says if you're there and you don't report it, you're actionable, too — so there's a whole bunch of people," Loftin said.

The lawyer added that he hopes witnesses will still come forward.

But an e-mail message sent by the TCU chapter president of Kappa Sigma — and obtained by News 8 — warns members to maintain "silence and secrecy" in the Carter case.

"That's also called obstruction of justice," Loftin said.

A spokesman for Kappa Sigma's national organization says the fraternity itself is blameless.

TCU says it is still investigating whether school rules were violated.

Loftin says there's plenty of blame to go around — civil and criminal, and he expects there will be lawsuits filed as a result.  Chance Carter admits that he also shares the blame.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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