U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz once led a fraternity that got into trouble with the law and animal welfare groups for threatening to sodomize a sheep.
The Hawaii Democrat, pictured here in the Class of 1994 yearbook, was a senior member of Phi Delta while studying at Pomona College, a small liberal arts school in eastern Los Angeles County.
“The Phi Delta fraternity has been charged with engaging in cruelty to animals by the Pomona Valley Humane Society after a Campus Security officer found a sheep locked in a social room closet being used by the fraternity,” wrote Brandon Stafford of Pomona’s school newspaper, The Student Life on April 8, 1994.
The Pomona Phi Delta to which Schatz belonged was not related to international Phi Delta Theta, which is headquartered in Oxford, Ohio and numbers among its members celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright and astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon.
“After a student in Clark V [dorm hall] reported hearing the bleating of a sheep in the basement of the dormitory, Campus Security arrived to cut the lock and free the animal, which was confined to small room [sic] also housing eight empty beer kegs,” the report continued. “The Humane Society is currently examining the sheep to see if it has been sexually molested.”
The sheep was not well cared for in its confines. “According to the security officer who freed the animal, there was a locked door between the sheep and the food and water the fraternity had left for it,” The Student Life reported.
Phi Delta member David Agay ’94 explained that the sheep was used in the fraternity’s initiation rites. Pledges were encouraged to “just give the sheep one poke,” Agay told to the student newspaper at the time, “but … if they tried to touch the sheep, they would be stopped. The pledges that refused to go near the sheep, he continued, were told that they could not join the fraternity.”
The pledges were later told that the trial was only a joke and that their refusal to sodomize the sheep did not bar their entry into the fraternity.
Agay denied that they did anything wrong but the college’s judicial body disciplined the fraternity and ultimately shut down fraternities entirely.
Schatz has never publicly discussed the incident, nor does he mention his involvement with the fraternity.
Animals seem to have been a theme for the fraternity. “Other traditional Phi Delta parties included the boxer shorts party, the barnyard animals party, and the Toga party,” noted the 1994 yearbook.
Schatz was appointed to the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body after Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Inouye died in December. He is currently running against Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary, which is in August 2014.
Neither Schatz nor his staff responded to requests for comment by email, Twitter and both his office phone numbers.