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Correction: Turkey (Allegedly) Tortured by Students at Fraternity Drinking Party: Take Action!

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    United Poultry Concerns - http://www.UPC-online.org/ 21 December 2012 CORRECTION: Douglas County Kansas District Attorney s Office Email Address should be
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 21, 2012
      United Poultry Concerns - http://www.UPC-online.org/
      21 December 2012

      CORRECTION: Douglas County Kansas District Attorney's Office
      Email Address should be districtattorney@...

      http://upc-online.org/turkeys/121221ks_frat_torture.html

      Turkey (Allegedly) Tortured by Students at Fraternity Drinking Party: Take Action!
      University of Kansas Beta Theta Pi Fraternity is Under Criminal Investigation

      On Friday evening, December 14, 2012, University of Kansas fraternity Beta Theta
      Pi, in Lawrence rented a turkey for a fraternity house drinking party.
      Eyewitnesses described fraternity members kicking in the cage in which the
      turkey was confined. After they broke the cage, the bird was chased, thrown like
      a football, and choked by the neck. [1]The Kansas City Star reported 12/17/2012:
      "When the turkey's wing snapped, and then its leg, the animal began screaming,
      witnesses said."

      Witnesses described the brutality they observed as "nauseating" and
      "horrible." A band member at the scene begged the fraternity to let her rescue
      the turkey from the violence but was told it was none of her business. Police
      were told a fraternity member finally killed the turkey.

      The KU Beta Theta Pi complaint is under criminal investigation. The National
      Beta Theta Pi parent organization has put the KU fraternity on suspension. KU
      fraternities are governed by the campus's Interfraternity Council which will do
      the initial investigation using information from the police. The University of
      Kansas has influence over the Council. University Relations told Lawrence
      activist Judy Carman yesterday, "We're not going to let this go away."

      Kansas Cruelty to Animals Statute 21-4310 defines Cruelty to Animals as
      "Intentionally killing, injuring, maiming, torturing or mutilating any
      animal."

      A key word in this law is INTENTIONAL. The fact that the fraternity rented the
      turkey for a drinking party shows an intention to put this bird in a destructive
      situation likely (certain) to cause injury or death to this animal by
      intoxicated students. By all accounts, Beta Theta Pi members intentionally
      tortured, injured and killed this helpless, unoffending bird.

      What Can I Do? (Contact Information Follows)

      * Urge Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson to conduct a thorough
      criminal investigation and, as findings warrant, to prosecute the student
      offenders to the fullest extent of the law. (See UPC's letter following contact
      information.)

      * Urge the National Beta Theta Pi organization and the KU Interfraternity
      Council to investigate the complaint and discipline the KU Beta Theta Pi
      fraternity in keeping with findings of intentional animal cruelty at the
      drinking party. Urge adoption of a Fraternity Code of Ethical Conduct
      prohibiting the presence of nonhuman animals at all fraternity functions. The
      Code should also include enforceable standards of humane conduct for Beta Theta
      Pi and all fraternities. Animals should be banned from all fraternity functions.
      Violations should mandate expulsion of the fraternity from the campus and its
      parent organization.

      * Urge University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to adopt and
      enforce policies prohibiting and penalizing animal cruelty at The University of
      Kansas. Penalties should include expulsion of students and failure to graduate.
      Urge Chancellor Gray-Little to adopt a Code of Humane Conduct for all campus
      residents, showing the leadership needed to prevent animal cruelty in the future.


      CONTACTS:

      District Attorney Charles Branson
      Douglas County DA's Office
      111 East 11th St, First Level
      Lawrence KS 66044
      Office: 785-841-0211
      Fax: 785-832-8202
      Email: districtattorney@...

      Justin Warren, Director of Chapter Operations
      Beta Theta Pi Foundation and Administrative Office
      5134 Bonham Road, PO Box 6277
      Oxford, OH 45056
      Phone: 513-523-7591 (Justin Warren ext 264)
      Fax: 513-523-2381
      Email: Justin.warren@...

      IFC Executive Board
      Interfraternity Council
      University of Kansas
      1301 Jayhawk Blvd
      Room 424, Kansas Union
      Lawrence, KS 66045
      Phone: 785-864-4643
      Email: Ifcpr@...

      Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little
      Chancellor's Office
      The University of Kansas
      230 Strong Hall
      Lawrence, KS 66045-7518
      Phone: 785-864-3131
      Fax: 785-864-4120
      Email: chancellor@...

      UPC's Letter to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson followed by the
      Reply

      December 20, 2012

      District Attorney Charles Branson
      Douglas County DA's Office
      111 East 11th St, First Level
      Lawrence KS 66044
      Via Email: Districtattorney@...

      Dear Mr. Branson:

      On behalf of United Poultry Concerns, I am writing to urge you to prosecute the
      individuals who reportedly abused and killed a turkey, "rented" for the
      occasion, at a University of Kansas Beta Theta Pi fraternity house drinking
      party December 14, 2012.

      Eyewitnesses described fraternity members kicking in the cage in which the
      turkey was confined. After they broke the cage, the bird was chased, thrown like
      a football, and choked by the neck. "When the turkey's wing snapped, and then
      its leg, the animal began screaming, witnesses said."

      A band member at the scene said she begged the fraternity to let her rescue the
      turkey from the violence but was told it was none of her business. Police were
      told a fraternity member finally killed the turkey.

      Kansas Cruelty to Animals Statute Chapter 21-4310 defines Cruelty to Animals as
      "Intentionally killing, injuring, maiming, torturing or mutilating any
      animal." The Statute defines "Animal" as "every living vertebrate except a human
      being."

      The fact that Beta Theta Pi rented the turkey for a drinking party shows the
      fraternity's intention to put this bird in a destructive situation likely to
      cause injury or death to this animal by intoxicated students. By all accounts,
      fraternity members intentionally injured, maimed, tortured, mutilated, and
      killed the turkey. Witnesses described the brutality they observed as
      "nauseating" and "horrible." As per your investigation, we want these students
      prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for their vicious and unlawful
      behavior toward this helpless, unoffending bird.

      Please advise how you intend to proceed with this case. We will gladly assist as
      needed. Turkeys are sentient animals with the same capacity for pain, suffering
      and fear as a cat or dog or pet bird. They deserve equal protection under the
      law from intentional cruelty.

      Thank you very much for your attention. We look forward to hearing from you.

      Sincerely,

      Karen Davis, PhD, President
      United Poultry Concerns
      PO Box 150
      Machipongo, VA 23405
      Office: 757-678-7875
      Email: Karen@...

      District Attorney's Office Reply 12/20/2012

      Dear Ms. Davis:

      Thank you for contacting the office of District Attorney Charles Branson.

      The Lawrence Police Department is conducting the investigation of the incident
      and it is estimated that it will take several weeks to complete. Therefore, as
      of this date, no facts about the situation have been presented to our office. We
      cannot speculate on what level of charges, if any, will be filed until we
      receive law enforcement's investigative reports.

      We take any allegation of animal abuse seriously and will pursue any charge we
      believe is supported by the facts of the case and I will relay your concerns to
      the District Attorney so he will be aware of them when the reports are reviewed.

      Thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns with our office.

      Sincerely yours,

      Cheryl L. Wright
      Assistant to the D.A.
      Office of District Attorney Charles Branson
      111 E. 11th St, Unit 100
      Lawrence, KS 66044--2912
      cwright@...
      cheryl.wright@...


      UPC's Letter to Justin Warren of Beta Theta Pi's National Organization followed
      by His Reply

      December 20, 2012

      Justin Warren, Director of Chapter Operations
      Beta Theta Pi Foundation and Administrative Office
      5134 Bonham Road, PO Box 6277
      Oxford, OH 45056
      Via Email: Justin.warren@...

      Dear Mr. Warren:

      On behalf of United Poultry Concerns, I am writing respectfully to urge you to
      investigate and, if your findings so warrant, to punish the Beta Theta Pi
      Chapter at The University of Kansas for abusing and killing a turkey, "rented"
      for a Beta Theta Pi fraternity house drinking party December 14, 2012.

      We are pleased to learn you are taking this matter seriously by suspending the
      chapter and obtaining witness statements about the animal cruelty described at
      the fraternity house drinking party on December 14. We have written the Douglas
      County District Attorney urging prosecution of the students under the Kansas
      Cruelty to Animals Statute which defines Cruelty to Animals as "Intentionally
      killing, maiming, torturing or mutilating any [vertebrate] animal."

      Eyewitnesses described fraternity members kicking in the cage in which the
      turkey was confined. They described fraternity members breaking the cage,
      chasing the bird, throwing the bird like a football, and choking the bird's
      neck. The Kansas City Star reported 12/18/2012: "When the turkey's wing snapped,
      and then its leg, the animal began screaming, witnesses said."

      Witnesses described the brutality they observed as "nauseating" and
      "horrible."

      The fact that Beta Theta Pi rented the turkey for a drinking party shows the
      fraternity's intention to put the bird in a destructive situation certain to
      cause injury or death to this animal by intoxicated fraternity members.

      Please take immediate steps to prevent future animal abuse by Beta Theta Pi
      Chapters. In addition to taking the strongest possible disciplinary action
      against the KU Chapter, please develop, circulate, and enforce a written Code of
      Ethical Conduct Prohibiting Animals at All Beta Theta Pi Functions. Violation of
      the prohibition should mandate expulsion of the chapter from the National
      Fraternity.

      Your Mission of Developing Men of Principle for a Principled Life means at the
      very least developing men who protect defenseless creatures against abuse. In
      this case, the evidence is strong that Beta Theta Pi men intentionally set up a
      situation in order to taunt, injure, terrorize and kill a helpless, unoffending
      bird. Their conduct is despicable.

      Please advise how Beta Theta Pi intends to handle this matter following your
      investigation. We will gladly assist as needed. Turkeys are sentient animals
      with the same capacity for pain, suffering and fear as a cat or dog or pet bird.
      Please punish the KU Chapter and formulate and enforce a Code of Ethical Conduct
      Prohibiting Animals at all Beta Theta Pi functions. In addition, please develop
      and inculcate standards of humane conduct toward animals for Men of Principle of
      the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

      Thank you very much for your attention. We look forward to your response.

      Sincerely,

      Karen Davis, PhD, President
      United Poultry Concerns
      PO Box 150
      Machipongo, VA 23405
      Office: 757-678-7875
      Email: Karen@...

      Justin Warren's Reply 12/21/2012

      Ms. Davis,

      I was unable to reach you via phone this morning; however, I am more than happy
      to provide a response.

      First off, I wanted to thank you for your outreach and please know that we
      appreciate and share in your concern. Let me assure you that Beta Theta Pi
      General Fraternity takes these allegations very seriously. At this time, we have
      suspended the chapter's activities pending a complete and thorough
      investigation. Our goal is to determine what members were primarily responsible
      for the actions and to what extent the rest of the chapter participated in
      bystander behavior. From there, we will be able to have a clear path forward on
      how to handle the chapter and the individuals involved.

      Please see the attached statement issued on behalf of the undergraduate chapter,
      which acknowledges the General Fraternity's suspension of chapter activities.

      In addition, the following statement was provided to the undergraduate
      chapter's leadership as a part of the official action to suspend all chapter
      activities pending the ongoing investigations:

      "Beta Theta Pi prides itself on being an organization that holds its members to
      the highest standards of personal and group conduct. The risk management policy
      and other rules and regulations of the General Fraternity, the University and
      the state of Kansas provide the framework for those standards. In light of the
      recent incident at the chapter's semester-end formal dinner and dance, the
      chapter's ability to operate in the constructs of those regulations has been
      called into question.

      It is expected that the General Fraternity and the Alpha Nu chapter will
      coordinate an initial investigation to determine what occurred the evening of
      the incident. Further, we expect that the chapter will comply fully with
      University and local officials during their investigations. All chapter
      activities are suspended until a complete investigation has been completed."

      I think a number of the ideas that you have presented are good and will
      certainly be remembered going forward. Without a doubt, you can safely assume
      that no animal will ever be involved in the Turkey Pull or any other event ever
      again with the KU chapter. Moreover, we are looking into how many other
      instances of live animals may be found in our other chapters to determine how to
      make sure the lesson we are learning here carries over to all Beta groups.

      If the allegations do turn out to be true, our top priority will be to hold the
      individuals directly involved with the actions responsible. Further, we will
      continue to evaluate the chapter's ability to self-govern and determine how to
      best rectify the situation with the chapter as well as educate our group at KU,
      and perhaps even the Greek or student bodies as a whole on this matter in
      attempts to prevent it from ever happening again. I have heard of your
      organization a few times from individuals calling our office regarding this
      matter … Are there resources, presentations or tactics that you all use to
      educate the public on these matters? If so, I would be interested in learning
      more about them and how we might be able to incorporate them into our future
      dealings with the KU chapter.

      We will continue to work diligently to make sure appropriate parties are held
      accountable and we appreciate your patience as this process unfolds.

      Sincerely,

      Justin

      ___________________________________________________________________________

      For more information about turkeys, see http://www.upc-online.org/turkeys/.

      --
      United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes
      the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.
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      View online: http://upc-online.org/turkeys/121221ks_frat_torture.html

      References

      1. http://www.kansascity.com/2012/12/17/3970469/ku-fraternity-investigated-for.html
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