FORT VALLEY, Ga. — Fort Valley State University is under investigation by the GBI for alleged employee misconduct involving students and outside players.
GBI Special Agent J.T. Ricketson said they were requested by the Georgia Board of Regents and Attorney General's office to "look into a matter" at the university. At least one employee is on administrative leave and the bureau is conducting dozens of interviews.
Ricketson said their criminal investigation began Thursday April 12 and the scope keeps widening. While he wouldn't categorize the investigation, posts on Twitter and other social media platforms point to a sex scandal with the Alpha Beta chapter and the oldest historically black sorority in the world, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
In a statement to 11Alive, the sorority said they have a "zero-tolerance policy for hazing, member sexual misconduct, and harassment, and we take any allegations of this nature very seriously."
They said the Fort Valley employee on administrative is a member of the sorority and were "appalled to learn of allegations of sexual misconduct."
Alpha Kappa Alpha also said they are have launched an internal investigation and are "fully cooperating with university and law enforcement officials as they investigate these allegations."
"These allegations are in no way representative of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s 110-year service-based mission or its nearly 300,000 members. We condemn these allegations in the strongest possible terms. We remain dedicated to our mission to encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, promote unity, alleviate problems concerning girls and women, create opportunities for them to pursue higher education and be of service to millions of people around the world annually.”
An image being circulated on Twitter implicates the newest members of Alpha Beta who were initiated just this Spring.
Special agent Ricketson said this investigation is so big that they're pulling in agents from around the state to help conduct interviews. He said the pool of interview subjects is widening as interviews take place. Agents have also seized computers and other items in connection to the case.
He said they recognize that the story is spiraling on social media and said "we're just going to have to be very methodical" about the investigation, saying "we have to be the fact finders."
Ricketson told 11Alive that it's too early in the investigation to talk about specifics but said none of the allegations "have been substantiated or corroborated yet" and it will take weeks before they have a full scope of what happened.
The investigation began after someone made a disclosure while they were dealing with an unrelated matter that then prompted the GBI to open the criminal investigation.
The University sent a statement to 11Alive's sister station WMAZ saying,
"Fort Valley State University recently notified the University System of Georgia about potential employee misconduct. We can confirm that the University System of Georgia is now conducting an investigation into this alleged employee misconduct, and an FVSU employee who is allegedly involved has been placed on administrative leave. We can also confirm that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Attorney General are involved and investigating whether criminal activity has occurred. With the investigation pending, we cannot comment further."
11Alive's Ron Jones spoke to members of the sorority on metro Atlanta campuses, who said they couldn't believe the allegations in her own state.
Kristen B. Reed is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and is not affiliated with this chapter.