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6 students charged in UF frat initiation

Published May 14, 1999|Updated Sep. 29, 2005

Two videos of the Delta Chi ritual are used to file prostitution-related charges against the men and a stripper.

Two Tampa Bay-area men are among six University of Florida students criminally charged Thursday for their behavior during a party that has gotten their fraternity chapter kicked off campus.

State Attorney Rod Smith charged the Delta Chi members and pledges with soliciting and engaging in prostitution, lewdness and "assignation" _ a rarely-prosecuted crime defined as making any appointment for prostitution or lewdness.

Hinting that charges against others may follow, Smith also charged Lisa Gier King, the 27-year-old stripper hired for the Feb. 26 initiation party, with prostitution, assignation and operating an escort service without a license.

"I don't think (these charges) are a surprise to anybody," said State Attorney's Office spokesman Spencer Mann, an investigator in the case also featured on the nationally televised Hard Copy Wednesday. "Assignation is not something we prosecute often, but we have strong evidence."

That evidence includes two videotapes shot during the fraternity's Big Brother/Little Brother ritual. The tapes, with their graphic close-ups of several young men having real or simulated sex with King and another stripper, were used to identify the six charged with the second-degree misdemeanors.

Freshman Joshua Rothburd, the 18-year-old son of Tampa psychologist Michael Rothburd, was one of several young men filmed getting lap dances and simulated oral sex from King while she danced in a downstairs room of the on-campus house, Mann said.

Also seen in the video was 20-year-old Jonathan Greenfield of Boca Raton and 18-year-old Emmanuel Lelekis of Belleair, who is filmed having chocolate syrup licked off his naked body while about 50 fraternity brothers cheer him and throw dollar bills at King.

The others charged _ 21-year-old Anthony Marzullo of Georgia, 20-year-old John Thomas of Pompano Beach and 21-year-old Michael Yahraus of Miami _ appear primarily in portions of the videotape shot in Yahraus' and Marzullo's room and in the chapter's hot tub.

In those portions of the video made public earlier this month, they drank heavily and joined King in simulated and real, sometimes rough and unprotected, sex.

"The whole incident is very repulsive," said Mann. "We've already had several attorneys call, obviously concerned."

Craig deThomasis, King's lawyer, expressed doubts about the strength of the charges.

"I have not seen an assignation case prosecuted in Alachua County in 16 years," said the Gainesville lawyer. "It's not common that prosecutors would deal with issues of morality. And all (Smith's) charges address behavior that no one has filed complaints about. There are many issues to be reviewed by a judge."

Mark Rodriguez, a Tampa lawyer representing Delta Chi, reacted to Smith's action with "Oh, boy."

He questioned Smith's case after seeing the tapes himself. "As far as prostitution, I just don't see it," he said.

Judith Marzullo, Anthony's mother, said, "This is just so ridiculous."

Lelekis' mother, Calliope, expressed only support for her son. "We love him very much. That's all we have to go by." Rothburd's father declined comment.

The young men will receive by mail notices to appear in court for an arraignment, likely scheduled in mid-summer. Mann said convictions on second-degree misdemeanors typically yield up to a year of probation, community service and fines.

But those charged may also face national fraternity sanctions and university punishment. The incident has received media attention as far away as Germany and as high-profile as Dateline NBC. Last semester, two students convicted of hate crimes were kicked out of UF.

"The two judicial processes are very separate," said Dean of Students Julie Sina, who last month kicked the 73-year-old chapter off campus through spring 2002. "But if we're aware of something happening, we will sometimes get involved."

Sina said she is unsure how Delta Chi's case will be resolved, largely because its scale is unprecedented at UF and across the country.

"This has certainly never happened here before," she said. "And in (Internet discussions within the Greek community), I have certainly never heard about anything like this."


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