The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has launched a wide-ranging inquiry into Fort Valley State University surrounding allegations of employee misconduct and hazing.
A GBI official told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday night that the case is growing so big that agents from across the state are being called to the area to assist in the investigation.
GBI Special Agent J.T. Ricketson confirmed that the investigation is taking place but would not go into details about what the agency is looking into. Several media outlets have reported that it involves the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and social media is humming over allegations that it might involve a sex ring.
“We haven’t confirmed any of the allegations that we have heard,” Ricketson said. “The story is out in front of us, but we have to be very thorough, because there is a lot of stuff out there. I told my agents that there is a lot of street committee talk out there.”
Earlier this week, officials at Fort Valley, a 123-year-old HBCU in Middle Georgia, notified the University System of Georgia about a case of employee misconduct and said an employee had been placed on administrative leave.
Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest black sorority in the country, issued a statement Wednesday saying it has launched a separate investigation and confirming that the Fort Valley administrator was a member of their sorority. The statement said the sorority has a “zero-tolerance policy for hazing, member sexual misconduct, and harassment.”
“These allegations are in no way representative of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s 110-year service-based mission or its nearly 300,000 members,” the statement said. “We condemn these allegations in the strongest possible terms. We remain dedicated to our mission to encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, promote unity, alleviate problems concerning girls and women, create opportunities for them to pursue higher education and be of service to millions of people around the world annually.”
Ricketson said the GBI started investigating the case on April 12.
He said the situation came to light during a recent Board of Regents visit to Fort Valley. A student mentioned it to a regent, who reported it to the state attorney general’s office, which directed the GBI to open a criminal investigation.
Ricketson said the first of as many as 60 interviews with students and staff started on Monday. Computers have also been seized.
“As we talk to students and staff, we are gaining additional information,” Ricketson said. “We are not at liberty to tell the nature of the allegations. But the nature of these allegations can be damaging to the reputation of an institution.”