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Yoo Sues Institute To Recover Degree

By Frank Dabek

Charles H. Yoo ’98, the Phi Gamma Delta pledge trainer at the time of the death of Scott S. Krueger ’01, has filed suit against the Institute and President Charles M. Vest to recover his diploma.

Yoo alleges that MIT and the Committee on Discipline treated him unfairly by revoking his degree for his role in Krueger’s death.

The suit seeks the return of Yoo’s degree and monetary compensation for losses incurred as a result of the decision according to Timothy M. Burke, Yoo’s lawyer in the case. Burke said that Yoo will not seek punitive damages against the Institute.

Thomas R. Henneberry, director of insurance and legal affairs, said that MIT had not yet been served with the documents and could not comment on the case.

The complaint, filed last week in Middlesex Superior Court contends that “MIT and President Vest acted in violation of MIT’s own disciplinary rules and the fundamental concepts of fairness and due process in revoking his degree.”

Burke said that he was not allowed to participate in the COD hearing to punish Yoo and that at the hearing no witnesses other than Dean Rosalind H. Williams were called to testify.

According to the lawyer’s complaint, “Dean Williams stated that she could provide a ‘synthetic view’ of what she believed occurred on the night in question.”

The COD hearing was “not a healthy environment,” Burke said. When the suit was first announced in August, Burke told the Boston Herald that the COD employed “star chamber” tactics.

The statement of the complaint also alleges that MIT attempted to coerce Yoo into waiving his Fifth Amendment rights. It also alleges that “MIT’s and President Vest’s actions were motivated by an interest in deflecting liability from MIT in the death of one of its students” as well as outlining MIT’s housing system and on campus housing shortage.

Vest was named in the case because he has the power to grant Yoo’s appeal of the COD’s decision, Burke said. Vest is named both as an individual and in his capacity as president of the Institute.

Racial discrimination alleged

The suit also claims that MIT “imposed a disparate penalty on [Yoo] because of his race.”

Burke said that the claim of race discrimination is based on the fact that only two individuals were punished as a result of Krueger’s death and that Yoo, the only non-caucasian, received a disproportionally severe punishment.

Burke supported his claim by reference to the report of the Suffolk Country District Attorney Ralph C. Martin III which concluded that the entire Fiji house was responsible rather than any individual.