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144 people knew about a Penn State fraternity’s creepshots, and 143 did nothing

The Penn State campus.
The Penn State campus.
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Members of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Pennsylvania State University could face criminal charges over a Facebook page that included photos of naked, unconscious women. The page came to light when the police investigation was announced Tuesday.

Penn State and Kappa Delta Rho's parent organization have suspended the fraternity for a year over the incident, meaning the fraternity can't participate in social activities and will be reorganized before it's reinstated. But Penn State hasn't yet taken the drastic steps that the University of Oklahoma and Sigma Alpha Epsilon did when video of a racist song sung by fraternity members went viral last week. Fraternity members will still be allowed to live in the chapter's house, and, unlike at Oklahoma, the chapter isn't disbanded permanently.

No one has been charged, and the worst the members face will probably be a fine, according to the Associated Press. But even by the standards of bad behavior from fraternities lately, the Penn State scandal is pretty shocking.

1) The page included photos of naked women in "sexual or embarrassing positions"

The application for a search warrant from local police, originally posted by student publication Onward State, includes details about what was on the private Facebook page called "2.0." The most shocking claim is that it includes photos of sleeping or passed-out women who don't seem aware that members of the fraternity were photographing them. Many of them were photographed naked or in "sexual or embarrassing positions," according to the search warrant.

Fraternity members and alumni also talked about drug deals (including cocaine, prescription stimulants for ADD, and marijuana).

2) At least 144 people knew about it, and 143 did nothing

The Facebook page had 144 members, including current students and alumni. That's a relatively large number of college students and recent graduates who knew the fraternity was posting nude photos of nonconsenting women for at least eight months and went along with it.

One person appears to have done the right thing: a former member of the fraternity who tipped off police by walking into the State College police station and requesting a meeting. His account, which he normally kept deactivated so his old fraternity wouldn't kick him off the private Facebook group, was used in the initial investigation and cited in the warrant.

3) Getting caught once didn't stop them

This is actually the second private Kappa Delta Rho Facebook page, according to the search warrant. The first, called "Covert Business Transactions," was shut down after a woman visiting the fraternity saw a photo of herself naked on the Facebook page and threatened to complain. The fraternity shut down the page and created another, hence the name "2.0." Members of the page also tried to conceal their identities in other ways; the names are mostly nicknames, according to the search warrant.

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