By John Clarke
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A college fraternity was suspended on Monday from a Virginia university over the display of banners containing lewd, sexually suggestive messages welcoming freshmen women to campus, fraternity and school officials said.
The Sigma Nu suspension at Old Dominion University in Norfolk is to remain in effect pending the outcome of a university inquiry into the incident, which occurred at a private, off-campus frat house, according to a statement from Brad Beacham, the fraternity's national executive director.
The banners in question, fashioned from bed sheets hung outside the frat house on Friday as new students arrived on campus, bore such messages as: "Rowdy and fun! Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time"; "Freshman daughter drop-off"; and "Go ahead and drop off mom too." Photos of the banners quickly spread on social media before the bed sheets were taken down.
Beacham said he did not initially believe the fraternity was involved in the incident but later discovered that a few of its members had taken part in the activity.
School officials released a statement on Saturday condemning the display and promising to investigate the incident, which follows a recent spate of high-profile sexual assault cases on college campuses that have placed fraternities under heightened scrutiny.
(Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)