Texas State fraternity suspended following attack on student

A Texas State University fraternity has been suspended for a minimum of seven years following an attack that left a student with a traumatic brain injury. 

On Wednesday, the university confirmed to FOX 7 Austin that “The administrative review of Pi Kappa Phi has been completed. The fraternity has been suspended for a minimum of seven years beginning Jan. 27, 2020.” 

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Nikolas Panagiotopoulos states that the student was walking with a friend on North Comanche Street in San Marcos around 2:30 a.m. on October 27 when fraternity members outside for some sort of social gathering began to harass them. It is believed the group mistook Panagiotopoulos’ friend for a member of a rival fraternity. Panagiotopoulos attempted to run away, but a large group of fraternity members and/or social guests chased after and attacked him. 

In a cell phone video, horrified bystanders can be heard screaming, pleading for the mob-style attack to end. The attack ends when the group leaves Panagiotopoulos unconscious on the street. 

Sean McConnell, an attorney with Winckler & Harvey, LLP, says recently learned he’s lost his sense of smell. “That’s been really tough on him,” he noted.

McConnell says Panagiotopoulos has been on blood thinners since the attack, and unable to engage in necessary physical therapy to heal his lower back injuries. He is still using a wheelchair to get around campus. 

Panagiotopoulos lives in an apartment across the street from the fraternity house.

“He has to see that house every day. He has to hear them if they’re out partying, being loud -- he’s just constantly reminded of what they did,” McConnell said. 

McConnell says Panagiotopoulos feels “every step forward is a step back," as Pi Kappa Phi’s national chapter is appealing the university’s decision. 

“Pi Kappa Phi is appealing the university decision. Due to the litigation over the incident, we cannot comment further at this time,” the organization told FOX 7 Austin. 

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Panagiotopoulos is seeking over $1,000,000 in damages. The local chapter of Pi Kappa Phi, as well as the national chapter, are being sued. Two fraternity members and an alumnus are also being sued. Two of them are facing aggravated assault charges. 

The lawsuit states that the Eta Rho chapter had a history of “encouraging rivalries with members of other fraternities and social clubs” a “history of encouraging violence” and a history of “encouraging consumption and over consumption of alcohol.” 

“We really feel that it’s on the fraternity, that they, their culture, their rules their protocols should have been set up to prevent something like this instead of encourage it,” McConnell said.