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Sorority sister says Sigma Sigma Sigma violated rules

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 18, 2011

HUNTINGTON -- A Sigma Sigma Sigma sister is suing the sorority after she claims the Marshall University chapter violated sorority rules.

Sigma Sigma Sigma Psi Chapter; Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority Alumnae, Inc.; Lynsey Hodges; Jennifer Sangid; Jessa Dingess; Laura Hatfield; Samantha Knauff; and Alexa Linz were also named as defendants in the suit.

On March 29, 2010, Sarah Frances Lyon pledged Tri-Sigma at Marshall University, according to a complaint filed Sept. 28 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Lyon claims on April 9, 2010, she met with a friend at the sorority house to go to a nail salon and when she arrived, she witnessed open beer cans, cases of unopened beer and other evidence of a party in multiple bedrooms. She claims she also witnessed multiple male Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity members sleeping in beds with the Tri-Sigma sorority girls.

Knowing that she had witnessed Tri-Sigma sorority rule violations and was uncomfortable seeing this activity in the sorority house, Lyon spoke with Megan Collier, the Tri-Sigma vice president, according to the suit.

On April 12, 2010, Hodges, the president of the sorority, called together all members of the past two pledge classes and requested the girls to write a paper titled, "How you currently feel about the chapter," according to the suit.

Lyon claims she wrote about being uncomfortable that house members had violated sorority policies by having alcohol in the house and boys upstairs.

Hodges collected the papers, rifled through the staff and pulled Lyon's from the stack papers, according to the suit, and read it to the group, then ridiculed Lyon in front of everyone in attendance.

Lyon claims throughout April 2010, Hodges instructed the sorority members to lie to any investigator inquiring about the "sleepover party" incident, which also violated the sorority's rules and policies.

In July 2010, Lyon attended a lunch with Sangid and Diana Vorhees, according to the suit.

Lyon claims Sangid bragged about harassing members and using Honor Council to phase out members. She claims she took Sangid's comments as a warning and was emotionally distraught by the comments.

On Aug. 16, 2010, Lyon moved into the sorority house and on Aug. 28, 2010, she was summoned to a community service event by a text message from Sangid, according to the suit.

Lyon claims she had previously been excused from attending the event by Hatfield, but Sangid questioned her about her lack of attendance via text messaging.

Very few members of the sorority attended the event, yet Lyon was the only one summoned or publicly embarrassed by her non-attendance, according to the suit.

Lyon claims on Sept. 17, 2010, she was accused by Knauff of telling a potential new member that she had to "prove herself" if she wanted to get a bid to the sorority. She claims several other sorority members joined in with other criticisms and verbal assaults against her.

Lyon was sent to Honor Council on four occasions between Oct. 4, 2010, and March 18. She claims she was accused of violating sorority policies and "conduct unbecoming of a sister."

The defendants engaged in the systematic hazing of Lyon and made intentional/fraudulent misrepresentations during the time period in which she pledged Sigma Sigma Sigma and while she was a member, according to the suit.

Lyon is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. She is being represented by Jon D. Hoover.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge David M. Pancake.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 11-C-724

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