Star, July 27, 1999 Special Star Investigation
George W. Bush in Torture Scandal by Richard Gooding
Presidential candidate George W. Bush once led a Yale fraternity that barbarically branded its new members on their backsides with a red-hot metal rod
as part of a sadistic hazing practice.
"I got branded and I didn't like it one bit," Professor Bradford Lee of the elite Naval War College in Newport, R.I.-an ex-football player and
onetime member of Bush's Delta Epsilon Kappa fraternity-told STAR in an exclusive interview.
"It did burn," he says, recalling the terrifying experience. "I think I still have the mark on me."
Bush, the oldest son of former President George Bush, is now the runaway front-runner for the Republican nomination for president. His campaign
stresses responsible individual behavior, family values and compassion for one's fellow citizens.
But a STAR investigation has revealed that he was president of Delta Epsilon Kappa when the hazing scandal broke in the campus newspaper in the late
'60s-leading to the fraternity being fined and the branding practice halted.
Amazingly, Bush, now the governor of Texas, defended the illegal torture of the young fraternity pledges at the time as a harmless prank-insisting
that it was comparable to "only a cigarette burn" which left "no scarring mark physically or mentally."
But others said the branding resulted in a second-degree burn that left a half-inch scab in the shape of the Greek letter Delta.
Lee-who still bears the mark 32 years later-is not sure who actually wielded the brand because the pledges were not allowed to look at their
tormentors. "But I do know that George Bush was very active in all the fraternity activities then."
Lee, who was a guard on the Yale football team, recalled that the branding came after "a long initiation that went on into the early morning
He says the idea was to wear you out so much that you allowed your bare flesh to be singed. "I was already tired from football practice earlier that
day. I was so groggy I wasn't exactly sensitive to what they were up to. I wasn't very happy about it."
The branding was a key reason why Lee quit the fraternity after just one year. "It got things off on a sour note, you might say," he notes.
Bill Katz, now a community college teacher in northern New Jersey, told STAR that the branding was done with "a wire coat hanger twisted into a
triangle and heated up" in the fireplace.
"They touched you just above the buttocks, in the small of the back," he says.
And Boston lawyer Franklin Levy said that to increase the fear of the moment, the older fraternity men first brandished an actual glowing hot branding
iron-to make them think that was what awaited them.
"When they burned me," Levy remembers, "I jumped a mile."
Before the brandings, pledges had to endure hours of being kicked and a vicious round of tannings with wooden paddles-another practice that Yale has
"On that night," according to an account in the Yale Daily News in 1967, 'each pledge was forced to sit with his head between his legs, motionless,
for two to five hours.
"If he coughed, raised his hand or talked, he was kicked by an older brother." After all the beatings, recalled one fraternity member, the branding
was almost a relief.
In the wake of the Yale Daily News' expose of the fraternity's hazing, Bush, whose father was also a DKE at Yale, admitted the branding to the New
York Times in November 1967.
But Bush-whose college nickname was "Lip" for his Texas wisecracks-also ripped into Yale for being too "Haughty" to "allow this type of pledging
to go on."
Bush's days and nights at Yale were mostly remembered as non-stop party and prank time by his former fraternity brothers. During his junior year, he
was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge in the theft of a Christmas wreath from a storefront to decorate the DKE house. At a football game against
Princeton, he helped tear down a goal post and ended up being hauled to the campus police station.
"We drank heavily at DKE," says Gregory Gallico, now a Boston plastic surgeon, as he recalled Bush and his other fraternity brothers. "It was
absolutely off the wall-appalling.
"I cannot for the life of me figure out how we all made it through." (End article.)
[Edited on 20-4-2003 by abstract_alao]