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CMU suspends frat for alleged pictures, videos of a sexual nature taken in house

| Saturday, March 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Carnegie Mellon University police and outside law enforcement agencies are investigating videos and photos of a sexual nature taken inside a campus fraternity house and emailed to fraternity members, the university said on Saturday.

The university has suspended the Beta Theta Pi chapter after a student notified university officials of the videos and photos, which the university said were taken by fraternity members and shared with others. The national organization's website said it suspended the chapter on March 25, and university spokesman Ken Walters said the university did as well.

A person who answered the door at the fraternity refused comment.

“At this point, we believe that a relatively small number of individuals are depicted in these images,” Gina Casalegno, the university's dean of student affairs, said in an email sent to students. “The investigation is ongoing, and we do not yet know the circumstances of the capturing or the sharing of images or precisely what violations of university policy or the law may have taken place.”

The investigation occurs on the heels of a case in Steubenville that drew national attention, in which images of a drunken rape victim were taken by teens at a party, then emailed and put on the Internet.

The university said in a statement that Carnegie Mellon police are investigating and have asked for the help of “external law enforcement authorities in that investigation.” Spokesman Ken Walters would not say which law enforcement agencies are assisting.

The FBI and Pittsburgh police did not return messages seeking comment.

“Although I am mindful not to presume guilt while the investigation is still in progress, I was shocked and deeply disappointed when I learned about these allegations,” university President Jared L. Cohon said in a statement. “The Carnegie Mellon I have known for the past 16 years is one rooted in strong values — values that include respect for one another. These alleged activities are wholly inconsistent with our values and will not be tolerated.”

Cohon is stepping down as the head of the university on June 30 and will be replaced by Subra Suresh, director of the National Science Foundation.

According to the national organization's website, the CMU chapter of Beta Theta Pi was founded in 1920. The website said the chapter has 112 collegians, two pledges, and 1,285 alumni.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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