Anti-Gay Comments Found On Dead Student - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/10/07

Anti-Gay Comments Found On Dead Student

As Phanta "Jack" Phoummarath lay dying of alcohol poisoning, members of the fraternity he was pledging defaced his body with numerous anti-gay epithets and obscene drawings, according to a medical examiner's report and an attorney representing Phoummarath's family.

"It was disgusting and despicable behavior," Houston attorney Randy Sorrels said of the many epithets and drawings found on Phoummarath's body after his death on Dec. 10, 2005. "This would be the juvenile behavior you might see in junior high or high school, but not college."

He said Phoummarath was not gay. The 18-year-old freshman from Houston pledging Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Texas at Austin died after ingesting large amounts of alcohol at a pledge party at the fraternity house. The Travis County Medical Examiner's Office reported his blood-alcohol content was .41, more than five times higher than the level needed to prove intoxication in Texas.

Phoumarrath was found dead the day after the party, his body still in the fraternity bedroom in which he passed out the night before.

Dr. Roberto Bayardo of the medical examiner's office reported that party-goers had used green and black markers to write "FAG," "I'm gay" and "I AM FAT" on Phoummarath's head, face, torso, legs and feet. Someone also added several drawings depicting naked men and women on his body and blackened his toenails.

Sorrels said the drawings and epithets were a juvenile prank. He said it had not yet been determined how long before Phoumarrath's death the actions took place.

A grand jury indicted three members of the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity last month on hazing charges following a yearlong investigation into Phoummarath's death.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Phoummarath died after a heavy night of drinking in which fraternity members chanted for him and six other pledges to finish as many as eight bottles of vodka, whiskey, rum and other drinks being passed around. Phoummarath later passed out on a mattress in the house around 12:30 a.m. and vomited on a blanket.

The university suspended Lambda Phi Epsilon's status as a registered student organization until 2011 after a school investigation found that hazing had occurred.

Phoumarrath's family also is suing the fraternity. Sorrels said one of the pledges had asked earlier in the night about precautions against alcohol poisoning and was told not to worry about it because fraternity members would take care of the pledges. Instead of scrawling and drawing on Phoummarath's body, Sorrels said, fraternity members should have been checking on his welfare.

The medical examiner's report, which was first reported in the Austin American-Statesman, notes that Phoummarath died of "acute alcohol poisoning, accident" and that traces of cannabinoid, which may indicate marijuana use, were detected in his urine.

Story courtesy of the Associated Press.

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