Texas Fraternity Brother Branded, Family Furious Over Ritual

Branding has long history in some U.S. fraternities.

ByABC News
January 28, 2010, 1:15 PM

Jan. 29, 2010— -- Most college students returned for the spring semester rested and relaxed. Amon Carter IV headed back to class with the mark of his fraternity burned into his backside.

The family of Texas Christian University student, who returned from a winter break ski trip with second and third-degree burns from being branded by his fraternity brothers, have already hired a lawyer to pressure school officials and police to punish all involved.

Carter, who goes by Chance, will require surgery to repair the damage done to his buttocks with a hot coat hanger after he passed out during a night of drinking.

"Kids get drunk and do really stupid things," Carter's cousin Sheila Johnson told ABCNews.com. "This crossed the line."

Forth Worth lawyer Kathryn Craven told ABCNews.com she was hired by Chance Carter's father, Amon Carter III, after his son came home and showed his father the wounds.

"He wants the people who did this to be held accountable under every possible entity because this was a torturous act," she said.

The branding allegedly took place on Jan. 9, when members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and the Tri Delta sorority were on vacation in Breckenridge, Colo.

Johnson, who is close to the TCU sophomore, told ABCNews.com that Chance Carter had drunkenly consented to letting his fraternity brothers finish branding his rear with the Kappa Sigma symbols, a mark he had started during spring break, unbeknownst to his family.

But his fraternity brothers took it upon themselves to continue the branding -- this time large triangles to represent the Tri Delta Sorority -- on his other buttock while he was passed out.

Johnson said the Tri Delta mark was mingled with numerous other brands, most of which are unrecognizable, since they overlap.

"They are large," she said.

"I woke up the next morning and I was in a lot of pain," Carter told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "My whole other butt cheek was destroyed."

The father of one of the students named by Craven as a possible brander told ABCNews.com that "the way I understand it, [Carter] consented to it."

Johnson said Chance Carter also had defense burns on his hands. The family is unsure if any other students were branded that night. The other fraternity brothers are not speaking to him.

"He's trying to get his life back and unfortunately, that's going to take some time," Johnson said.

Branding has been a rite of passage in black fraternities for decades, but is still a fairly uncommon ritual among white fraternity members.

Lawrence Ross Jr., author of "The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities," told ABCNews.com that he's starting to hear more and more cases of branding among white fraternities, which he attributed to Internet videos and pictures glorifying the ritual.

"I tend to look at it as a personal choice," Ross said, adding that he chose a tattoo, not a brand, during his frat days with Alpha Phi Alpha.