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Fraternity Cleared of Crime in Pledge’s Death, Suspension Upheld

By Carla O'Day
Sigma Nu House

Photo: Sigma Nu

No probable cause for criminal charges was found in the death of a University of Nevada, Reno fraternity pledge, but administrative action taken by UNR to suspend the fraternity showed the chapter violated the student code of conduct.

The 15-year suspension, or loss of recognition, of Sigma Nu’s Delta Xi chapter was issued following an investigation by UNR’s Office of Student Conduct. It found violations prohibited by the Student Code of Conduct, the 2016 Relationship Agreement for the Recognition for Social Fraternities and Sororities, and the UNR Residence Based Alcohol Policy.

Ryan Abele, 18, of Concord, Calif., died from a brain injury sustained during a fall in October at the Sigma Nu house.

UNR Police Chief Adam Garcia said Tuesday the series of events related to Abele’s injury and subsequent death don’t support probable cause for felony or gross misdemeanor crimes pursuant to NRS 200.700 and NRS 200.605.

“It is important to point out that the standard of proof required for a criminal charge is much higher than that required for an administrative action, such as the imposition of ‘loss of recognition,'” Garcia said in a statement.

At the request of the fraternity, UNR’s Office of Student Conduct will meet with the chapter Jan. 13 to hear its appeal. The assistant dean of student conduct will discuss charges of misconduct and review the hearing type and hearing process under the procedure stated in the Student Code of Conduct, Section IV.B.5. A hearing date will be set.

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