Sunday, 16 December, 2018

PSU fraternity members charged after hazing death

Francis Olson | 10 May, 2017, 03:57

Tim Piazza, a Beta Theta Pi pledge, had been subjected to hazing, forced to guzzle vodka, beer and wine on February 2, according to the New York Daily News.

Eighteen Pennsylvania State University students and their fraternity were charged Friday in one of the largest hazing prosecutions in the nation's history, sending a chill through the campus in nearby State College as it was about to begin commencement festivities.

Authorities say a student who died during alcohol-fueled pledge night at a now-shuttered Penn State fraternity suffered a series of falls and was forced to run a "gauntlet" of drinking stations.

After that ritual, investigators said Piazza was injured when he fell down a flight of stairs, but the DA said that was only the first fall.

The school has permanently banned the fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, after looking into events around the death of Piazza.

Penn State has already made some changes to fraternities since Piazza's death.

Penn State's Greek life is now under increased scrutiny.

.

The charges against Beta Theta Pi and the frat brothers range from involuntary manslaughter to furnishing alcohol to minors and evidence tampering.

The frat was having "bid acceptance night", where pledges were formally invited to join the fraternity. After going through a "gauntlet" of drinking stations as part of a pledge initiation activity, Piazza was spotted drunk and "hunched over", the grand jury's findings note.

"I never want to do this again, if people are willing to hide that behavior I don't see how we can stop it", Barron said.

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University President Eric Barron called the report heart-wrenching, sickening and incomprehensible.

Video footage from a security system in the Beta house shows that in fact Piazza fell multiple additional times during the night and the early morning.

As ABC News reported Friday, all defendants charged with involuntary manslaughter were preliminarily arraigned Friday afternoon.

The Beta Theta Pi members seemed more interested in protecting themselves than the teen pledge, Davis said.

The fraternity brothers and other witnesses who testified before the grand jury led the investigative body to conclude the students engaged in hazing during Piazza's pledge class this semester but had also hazed pledges during the previous two semesters. Charges against students present at the event were announced in Bellefonte, Pa. on May 5.

During the next 40 minutes, fraternity brothers shook him, tried to prop him up, covered him with a blanket, wiped his face and attempted to dress him before one finally called 911, the grand jury said. Another brother allegedly shoved him into a wall, and told him to leave because they had it under control.

Piazza died two days after suffering his injuries. Four fraternity brothers carried his limp body back upstairs, where some poured liquid on him, and another slapped him three times in the face, the grand jury said.

Beta Theta Pi International Fraternity described the "nature of those charges" as "incredibly disheartening as the organization and its membership continue to grieve Tim's passing and the pain experienced by his family".

National IFC President Jud Horras has been very critical of Penn State's leadership on this issue, and says the university has not taken the critical steps needed to solve this problem. This was for a fraternity that on paper declared itself "dry" and prohibited drinking on its premises.

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