The local and international chapters of Sigma Pi Fraternity have denied any involvement in the alleged hazing death of Ohio University freshman Collin Wiant, and the local chapter says Wiant was not a pledge at the time of his death because he had been removed from the process due to a rape accusation.
In a lawsuit filed Feb. 14, Wade and Kathleen Wiant, Collin’s parents, argue that he died as a result of hazing endured at the hands of Sigma Pi fraternity brothers. Wiant died Nov. 12 of asphyxiation due to consumption of nitrous oxide, or “whippets,” according to the suit, which alleges that Sigma Pi fraternity brothers forced him to take the drugs.
The lawsuit also alleges that Wiant was deprived of sleep, beaten with a belt, forced to beat others with a belt, punched, pelted with eggs, forced to take drugs and forced to drink a gallon of alcohol in 60 minutes.
The Epsilon chapter of Sigma Pi argued in its response to the suit that Wiant and other people who were not under the chapter’s control were responsible for his death. The international chapter of Sigma Pi argued that it was not aware of the alleged hazing and that the death was not due to Sigma Pi International’s negligence.
The Epsilon chapter of Sigma Pi Fraternity also argued that Wiant was not a pledge at the time of his death. He had been removed from the pledge process Oct. 24 after the chapter’s leadership learned a woman had accused him of sexual assault three days before, attorney Matthew Carlisle wrote.
According to documents the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office provided The Post in response to a public records request, an Ohio University student reported that Wiant walked her home after a party and raped her in her room. The woman told police she had no memory of the incident and believed she had been drugged.
Wiant was never charged for the alleged rape. The case was closed after Wiant’s death, but the Ohio University Police Department redacted the reports and has not said why the case was closed.
Rex Elliot, a Columbus-based attorney representing the Wiant family, said no records show that Wiant had been removed from the pledge process and said that if Wiant had been removed from the pledge process, he wouldn’t have been summoned to the party the night of his death. Elliot also said the sex was consensual.
“We are going to prove that it’s not true,” Elliot said. “It’s just another sickening attempt by this fraternity to protect itself at the expense of an 18-year-old kid that died in their house while they were hazing (him).”
Wiant’s parents filed the lawsuit on seven counts: violation of Ohio’s anti-hazing laws, negligence, civil conspiracy, negligent supervision, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Both the Wiants and Sigma Pi International have demanded a jury trial.