South Carolina’s government insurance fund paid out $55,000 to settle a hazing lawsuit at the state’s military college.
The alleged incidents happened at The Citadel in the fall of 2013, when then-cadet Zachary Rutherford was a first-year student at the public military institution. According to the Post and Courier, in the lawsuit Rutherford said he was bound and gagged by three other cadets, had coffee grounds poured in his mouth, dirty underwear placed on his head and was hit in the groin with an elastic physical training belt.
Rutherford claimed the school had been aware for decades of incidents of hazing and cases where freshmen students (known as “knobs”) were bound and gagged, which The Citadel argued. The cadet signed a agreement in May which stated that the settlement is a compromise of doubtful and disputed claims.
Citadel leaders have launched a visible public effort to crack down on hazing at the 174-year-old Charleston institution. At least nine cadets were expelled or withdrew from the school last year after a series of hazing investigations. Earlier this year, 14 others were disciplined after videos posted to social media showed “knobs” wearing pillowcases over their head and singing Christmas carols. The videos reminded many on social media of KKK hoods, but the school believes the students did not intend to imitate the white supremacy group.
The Insurance Reserve Fund paid the settlement. The state agency offers liability coverage to most of South Carolina’s government entities.