A former University of Oklahoma student is suing a fraternity, saying he was hazed and beaten by members at a 2015 pledge event.
Texas resident Blake Novacek filed a lawsuit last week against the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, two fraternity members and others over an incident he alleges happened after pledges were called to the fraternity's house in Norman on Oct. 11, 2015.
Novacek's father is former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek and is well known in North Texas. Attorney Chris Cooke says it’s the reason why his son waited so long to speak out about his hazing incident.
Novacek said he was hit in the abdomen with a baseball bat after failing to recite some pledge facts, causing him to hit his head and lose consciousness. The suit alleges the fraternity member who swung the bat was drunk. It also alleges a different member threatened to retaliate if Novacek didn't "keep his mouth shut about the hazing incident or else the fraternity would ruin plaintiff’s and his family’s reputation.”
The lawsuit alleges the fraternity's pledge class president asked Novacek not to file a report of the incident. Novacek said he agreed, but that his car was vandalized the next day.
Cooke says there was another incident that ended with Novacek having a broken nose at a barn dance party. As of right now, that incident is not part of the lawsuit.
"The pledges were made to fight each other as some members and their dates looked on drinking beer for their own amusement,” the lawyer claimed.
Cooke says Novacek's dream of following in his dad's profession as a radio sportscaster is damaged.
"He has traumatic brain injury. He has PTSD. He's bipolar. He has post-concussive syndrome, and he's under the care of a number of doctors at this point,” Cooke said. “This is a boy who could tell you every football player, what their stats were, what games they played. And now, he can't even tell you his social security number."
The lawsuit claims that Beta Theta Pi promotes a “culture of hazing within the fraternity. In February, a Beta Theta Pi pledge died during a hazing event at Penn State University.
"We didn't file it because of who his father is,” Cooke said. “We filed it to seek changes, not within just this fraternity but fraternities nationwide"
The two fraternity members named as defendants denied the allegations, saying the accusations were a surprise and that they planned to hire attorneys. The president of the Beta Theta Pi Corporation of Oklahoma said the lawsuit was "entirely without merit."
The fraternity released a statement saying it became aware of the lawsuit on Monday.
"This is the first any of us have heard of any of the plaintiff's alleged grievances, which supposedly arose two years ago," the fraternity said.
University spokesman Rowdy Gilbert declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying it would be inappropriate to do so because the litigation was pending. But she said: "The university investigates every report of a violation of the Student Rights and Responsibilities Code."
"You know what we want more than anything? An apology,” Cooke said. “If the fraternity would apologize, if the university would apologize — just step up and do the right thing."
The fraternity sent an additional statement doubling down on their claim that the lawsuit is without merit.
Beta Theta Pi added, "we have performed an initial investigation of Blake's allegations... We have numerous witness accounts and other evidence which contradict Blake's story and which question his credibility."
The fraternity says there were no activities scheduled on the morning of October 11 when the lawsuit alleges the hazing occurred. It emailed FOX 4 a picture, which it says is from an Instagram account, which we have determined does not belong to Blake Novacek. It appears to show that on October 11, 2015, Blake Novacek was actually in Arlington at a Dallas Cowboys game. There was a Cowboys-Patriots game on that day at AT&T Stadium that day.
Cooke says the lawsuit should read "on or around October 11". With Blake's memory loss, Cooke says he doesn't remember exactly which day it occurred.
Cooke says Novacek refused to participate in hazing activities and was eventually kicked out of the fraternity. And because of his injuries, his grade average plummeted and forced him to eventually drop out of school.
The lawsuit doesn’t ask for a specific amount, but Cooke says they will be asking for several million dollars before the suit is over, depending on how extensive Novacek’s brain injury turns out to be.