Why PSU Frat Whistleblower Wants to Keep Case in Philadelphia
The battle over the venue of former Penn State student James Vivenzio‘s court case against the university continued this morning when a judge heard a motion filed by Vivenzio’s lawyer, Aaron Freiwald, to keep the case in Philadelphia.
James Keller, the university’s attorney, attempted in September to have the case relocated to Centre County, where Penn State is located and where Vivenzio alleges that he was hazed by receiving cigarette burns and being forced to drink vile alcoholic concoctions.
After Vivenzio revealed to police and school officials a secret Facebook page maintained by his fraternity, Kappa Delta Rho, the State College police announced last March that they were investigating the fraternity. The Facebook group, titled “2.0”, supposedly featured photos of seemingly unconscious nude women, hazing, and drugs, among other things. Previously, the fraternity had communicated through another group on Facebook under the name “Covert Business Transactions,” which was shut down.
In addition to his lawsuit against Penn State, Vivenzio also brought charges against the school’s interfraternity council, the fraternity’s national and local chapters, as well as Penn State’s KDR alumni group, the Centre Daily Times reports.
Keller, who could not be reached for comment, reportedly sees no reason for Vivenzio’s case to be tried in Philadelphia. After all, the former student lives in Virginia and attended Penn State in Centre County where he alerted police to KDR’s behavior.
However, Freiwald, who remains “hopeful” the case will remain in Philadelphia, vehemently denies Keller’s points. “There is a precedent for Penn State cases being heard in Philadelphia,” Freiwald said. He also alluded to cases related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal that were also held in Philadelphia.
More importantly, though, Freiwald’s efforts to keep the trial in the city are motivated by the Vivenzio family’s preference to be away from Penn State. Additionally, Freiwald mentioned Vivenzio’s own desire to avoid State College, based on the traumatic events he says took place during his time there.
“Penn State exerts an influence in Centre County,” Freiwald said. Because of that influence, and since the university still “does a lot of business in Philly,” he believes Philadelphia is the most suitable venue, though the location is not crucial to the trial’s outcome.
“This is an important case no matter where it is ultimately handled,” Freiwald said. “Jurors everywhere will be able to hear the facts and be outraged.”
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