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Virginia Tech, former cadet resolve blood-pinning suit

Virginia Tech, former cadet resolve blood-pinning suit

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets during an observance ceremony.

A former Virginia Tech cadet settled the lawsuit he brought against the university when it suspended him for overseeing a blood-pinning ritual.

The suit, brought in federal court last month, “has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties,” this week, university spokesman Mark Owczarski said on Wednesday.

Owczarski said that was all he could say about the case.

Darrien Brown was a rising senior at Tech when he was suspended in December after allegations that he had overseen a Corps of Cadets sophomore integration event, which included the tapping of military pins into cadets’ chests. Brown was suspended for two semesters after a student conduct hearing found him guilty of violating the university’s hazing policy. A dozen cadets were suspended in that October incident.

In the lawsuit, Brown had asked the university to reinstate him and expunge his record. Brown, a business management major, would lose his military scholarship and commission to join the Army upon his planned May graduation, according to the suit.

The crux of the case centered around due process, and whether Brown was denied that constitutional right before or during his student conduct hearing.

Rob Dean, a Roanoke lawyer who represented Brown, declined to comment.

Neither Dean nor Owczarski would say Wednesday whether Brown was readmitted to Tech.

At a federal court hearing in Roanoke last week, Chief Judge Michael Urbanski directed U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou to begin settlement negotiations between Dean and Tech, which brought five attorneys to court.

In court, Urbanski expressed sympathy to Brown’s predicament, and stressed that the court case did not revolve around the definition of hazing under Tech policy.

Urbanski said that Tech’s suspension policy forbids people from seeking college credits elsewhere, and that may be the course of action Brown wanted to pursue so he could graduate on time. Brown’s suit did not make that explicit argument.

Urbanski had also ordered Tech to produce within five days any records of an original complaint against Brown to determine whether any investigatory materials were withheld from him. A subsequent court order suspended that timeframe, and no such documents were ever publicly filed on the court’s online docket.

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