Baruch College Freshman Died on Fraternity Trip
New York City, December 9, 2013
Chen "Michael" Deng, a freshman at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York, died on Monday following an unsanctioned fraternity trip to the Poconos. Michael was one of four pledges, and 30 members, of Pi Delta Psi on the trip, and he suffered an injury while "partaking in a ritual" early Sunday morning. Michael became unresponsive, and fraternity members eventually took him to the hospital, where he was determined to have suffered major brain trauma and placed on life support. He died the next day. Police are investigating the cause and circumstance of Michael's death.
DC Lawyer Devotes Practice to Hazing Victims
David Lukow, JD Journal, June 20, 2013
Doug Fierberg isn't looking for accolades. An attorney with Bode & Grenier, LLP, a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm, Fierberg has been lead counsel for several victims of hazing, sexual assault and other violence associated with school or institutional settings. His website - www.hazinglaw.com
- is dedicated to the legalities connected with hazing and the injury and death it causes. Read the full article
Freshman Death Following Fraternity Event, California
May 10, 2013
Eighteen year old Peter Tran, a freshman at San Francisco State University, died on April 24, 2013, following an event at the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity house. Peter was a star running back at George Washington High School and was in the pre-nursing program at SFSU. While the cause of death is under investigation, Lambda Phi Epsilon has a history of extreme hazing, and lawsuits against it, including at Cal Poly Pomona, University of Texas at Austin and Northwestern University. The fraternity chapter was placed on immediate suspension pending the University's review of its, and its members', conduct.
Four Men Charged with Hazing Deaths, Virginia
April 24, 2013
Four men have been charged with hazing after the drowning deaths of two students at Virginia State University. A statement released by the University read, "Virginia State University regrets to inform our community that two VSU freshmen, Jauwan Holmes and Marvell Edmonson, have been reported missing following an incident at the Appomattox River in Petersburg. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of our students. We ask the VSU community to come together during this time and to offer one another support and strength." Jauwan and Marvell were among seven students attempting to join "Men of Honor," and as a rite of initiation were required to swim across the river. The other five students were pulled to safety.
Three Criminally Charged in Hazing Death of Philip Dhanens, California
March 12, 2013
The Fresno County District Attorney has filed criminal charges against three individuals for the September 1, 2012, hazing death of freshman Philip Dhanens as he pledged Theta Chi Fraternity at Fresno State. The three fraternity members, Aaron Raymo, Leonard Serrato and Daniel Baker, were each charged with two misdemeanors for hazing and providing alcohol to a minor, punishable by 6-12 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
Sigma Alpha Mu Suspended After Freshman Pledge Death, Massachusetts
March 11, 2013
Boston University suspended the Sigma Alpha Mu chapter following the death of freshman pledge Anthony Barksdale II. An off-campus party was held for the six new prospective members of the chapter, at a house leased exclusively by SAM members. Anthony, a graduate of Souhegan High School, where he excelled in football and basketball, was found unconscious around midnight, reportedly after being compelled to consume lethal quantities of alcohol. 911 was called, and Anthony was pronounced dead hours later at the hospital. Anthony would have turned 19 next month.
Arrests in a Freshman's Drinking Death Reflect a Tougher Approach
December 19, 2012, New York Times
The arrests amount to one of the largest numbers of people to be criminally charged in a single college hazing episode, reflecting recent efforts by the police and prosecutors around the country to enforce anti-hazing laws more aggressively. But some experts said the message was unlikely to make a lasting change in college drinking culture. "Things tend to go back to normal because the institutional memories at universities change every four years," said Douglas E. Fierberg, a Washington lawyer who specializes in hazing death cases. "The new freshmen know nothing about what happened four years earlier." Read full article
"Mom's Night" New Twist on Big Brother Ritual
November 28, 2012
On November 2, 2012, Northern Illinois University freshman David Bogenberger participated in "Mom's Night" as part of his pledging process into Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. "Mom's Night" is reportedly a tradition at NIU, participated in by most fraternities and often on the same day. In seeking to identify his "pledge mom," an upperclass sorority member hidden behind any one of a number of closed doors, the fraternity pledge is forced to drink between two and five shots of liquor each time he chooses the wrong door. On his "Mom's Night," David became incapacitated, was placed in a room to sleep and was found the next morning unresponsive. David is survived by his parents and four siblings, including his triplet brother and sister.
Despite prevention efforts, hazing persists on campuses
Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY, November 20, 2012
"You can't start (fixing the problem) unless you start getting open disclosure about the problem around the country, " says Washington lawyer Douglas Fierberg, who has represented numerous parents of children who died as a result of hazing. "Everyone is left talking about an elusive problem without having access to the factual information." Read full article
Clearing Up Hazing: Opponents are Pushing for Stricter Laws
ABA Journal, October 2012
"Our view, and it is shared by our clients, is that ultimately the industry will not be made safer and ultimately fewer people will experience the traumatic injury and death that has come with fraternities until change is made at the national level," [Attorney Doug] Fierberg says. He favors wholesale moves such as alcohol-free fraternity housing, live-in management, and increased disclosure by fraternities and schools of incidents involving hazing. Read full article
Freshman Drowning During Fraternity Event, Idaho
September 1, 2012
University of Idaho freshman Preston W. Vorhauer, of Kamiah, a talented musician and avid outdoorsman, drowned on September 1, 2012, in Dworshak Reservoir. Preston, a Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity pledge, was reportedly with senior members of the fraternity in a 150-yard swim to an island. Before reaching the island, Preston yelled that he was turning back. Two fraternity members tried to keep Preston afloat but he slipped under. His body was recovered after a three hour search.
"Delayed Rush to Judgment"
Hank Nuwer, September 2012
Two weeks ago, Philip Dhanens and 1100 fellow first-year students and their parents enjoyed traditional welcoming ceremonies at Fresno State University.
Upperclassmen and staff assisted with move-ins into housing.
The school's food service people threw a big barbecue. And the fraternity Theta Chi began courting the new freshman males, hoping to attact members with their own members' good looks, nice guy rep and parties. Those were really all the chapter had going for it, according to one national Greek rating service. Read full article
Fraternity Pledge Death, California
September 2, 2012
Fresno State University freshman Philip Dhanens, of Bakersfield, California, died Sunday after a Friday night party at the Theta Chi fraternity. Dhanens was a standout on his high school football team and prom king his senior year. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in his death, but the autopsy and toxicology results are pending. A Theta Chi member at one point that night put Dhanens in the fraternity house "sober up room," and later found him there unconscious. Both Fresno State and the Theta Chi national fraternity suspended the chapter on Saturday, before Dhanens' death. This is the second fraternity pledge death at Fresno State in seven years.
"What's the life of a dead fraternity pledge worth?"
Hank Nuwer, July 11, 2012
One thousand dollars. One thousand dollars per man was the penalty a Virginia court imposed on five Radford University students in the death of Tau Kappa Epsilon pledge Samuel Mason from alcohol poisoning. He was 20. Predictably, a sentence of two years for each of those men was suspended by that court. Read full article
"Life-Threatening Hazing" Investigation, Arkansas
April 21, 2012
An Arkansas Tech University student and football player, Deshawn Scoggins, was hospitalized and is in serious condition resulting from hazing injuries inflicted while pledging the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Scoggins is reportedly on life support, suffering from organ failure. The Fraternity is suspended pending the investigation.
Bid Night Pledge Death, Indiana
February 18, 2012
William Torrance, 19 years old, was found unresponsive after a bid night ceremony at the Delta Gamma Iota fraternity at Vincennes University. Alcohol is believed to be a factor, but the death remains under investigation.
Fraternity Suspended for Hazing, Florida
February 9, 2012
The University of Florida has suspended the Alpha Phi Alpha chapter after learning about a "serious physical hazing incident." The incident is under investigation, and the extent of injuries, if any, is unknown.
Phi Kappa Psi Chapter Suspended for Hazing, Ohio
February 2, 2012
The University of Dayton has suspended the Phi Kappa Psi chapter for one year following a fall hazing incident which involved forced consumption of excessive alcohol, resulting in the hospitalization of one pledge. The University has withdrawn recognition of the chapter and its house until January 1, 2013.
High School Wrestlers Charged with Assault, Iowa
January 12, 2012
North High School, in Sioux City, Iowa, placed the wrestling coach on paid administrative leave following the indictments of four wrestling team members for misdemeanor charges of simple assault following a hazing incident in December 2011. The hazing reportedly involved "humiliation techniques on bare skin of sensitive body parts."
High School Wrestlers Charged with Second Degree Sexual Abuse, Iowa
January 9, 2012
Two members of the Nodaway Valley High School have been charged with second degree sexual abuse for the hazing assault of three members in December. The younger teammates were assaulted for not making weight or for missing a practice. Second degree sexual abuse is a Class B felony in Iowa, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Suspended for Hazing, Florida
December 29, 2011
Jacksonsville State University has suspended the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity chapter for hazing which occurred on November 29, 2011, sending two students to the hospital. The district attorney is investigating potential criminal activity and may issue warrants for individual or multiple arrests.
Drum Major Found Dead, Hazing Suspected, Florida
November 19, 2011
Robert Champion, the Florida A&M Drum Major, was found unresponsive on the band's bus Saturday night, shortly after performing at halftime. He was later pronounced dead. Hazing is suspected in the death, and an investigation into the band's "unauthorized and questionable" activities is ongoing.
Penn State Athletic Officials Step Down Amid Allegations of Sexual Abuse
November 6, 2011
Two top Penn State athletic deparment officials, including the athletic director, stepped down facing charges related to sexual abuse of at least eight boys over fifteen years at Penn State athletic facilities. PSU's former defensive coordinator is accused of abusing boys participating in a program for at-risk kids, and the athletic department officials are accused of failing to report their investigation of the allegations.
18-Year-Old Found Dead in Fraternity House, UCLA
November 5, 2011
Glen Parrish, 18 years old, was found dead in the Theta Chi fraternity house at UCLA Saturday afternoon. Police indicate alcohol and drugs may have been a factor in his death, and the investigation is ongoing.
Fraternity Suspended, Members Arrested for Hazing, Virginia
November 2, 2011
Longwood University has suspended the Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter and university police have arrested 16 people for hazing. The investigation is ongoing.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Hazing Arrests, South Carolina
October 23, 2011
A Francis Marion University student was hospitalized with serious bodily injury following a paddling by Phi Beta Sigma fraternity members and alumni. The student was pledging the fraternity. Nine have been arrested on hazing charges.
Bullying Law Puts New Jersey Schools on Spot
August 30, 2011, The New York Times.
Under a new state law in New Jersey, lunch-line bullies in the East Hanover schools can be reported to the police by their classmates this fall through anonymous tips to the Crimestoppers hot line.
Feds: CA School Failed to Protect Gay Teen
A Central California school district did not adequately investigate or respond to complaints of bullying endured by 13-year-old, Seth Walsh, who later committed suicide after being harassed by classmates because he was gay, said federal officials. Government officials launched an investigation based on a civil-rights complaint filed by Seth's mother, Wendy Walsh.
Doug Fierberg to Defend Victim's Rights in Cornell University Hazing Case
View CBS New York article here.
Suit Filed in Cornell Case, New York
June 27, 2011
Marie Lourdes André, the mother of deceased Cornell University student George Desdunes, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Kings County, New York, against Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity (“SAE”), its officers and members (case no. 500460/2011). The suit seeks to hold SAE, its chapter officers and members responsible for his death by hazing as that term is defined generally, under the laws of the State of New York, and the Guidebook of Rights, Responsibilities, Requirements and Resources (the “Guidebook”) of Cornell University. For the full press release, click here
Fraternity House Death, Colorado
April 19, 2011
Ross Higuchi, a freshman at the University of North Colorado, died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a fall from a fraternity house's second-story balcony Saturday night. Higuchi was highly intoxicated at the Delta Tau Delta party, and police are investigating who supplied the alcohol.
Fraternity Member Death, Arizona
April 2, 2011
University of Arizona sophomore Wilson Forrester was found dead in his fraternity house Saturday morning. FIJI (Phi Gamma Delta) has not issued a statement, and the cause of death remains under investigation. Wilson was a pre-physiology major from Nashville, Tennessee.
University Withdraws Recognition of Fraternity, Cornell
March 19, 2011
Cornell University has withdrawn its recognition of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity based on information and shocking allegations provided to the University regarding the death of member George Desdunes on February 25, 2011. Initial reports are that Desdunes was provided alcohol "while in the care of fraternity members" and that "members and associate members recognized the position Desdunes was in, [but] they failed to call for help." Members will have until the end of March to vacate the house, and the fraternity will be banned from operation on the campus for five years.
Pledge Hospitalized, Virginia
March 1, 2011
A 19-year-old first-year student pledging Zeta Psi fraternity was hospitalized in a possible case of hazing. Pledges were required to eat a meal of dog food, matzo balls, gefilte fish and soy sauce. The 12-18 ounces of soy sauce the pledge drank caused an electrolyte imbalance that led to seizures. The pledge was placed in intensive care and hospitalized for 4 days.
Alcohol-Related Death, Ithaca College, New York
February 26, 2011
Victoria Chen, a 17-year-old freshman at Ithaca College, was found dead in the snow behind a house near campus on Saturday afternoon. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in her death.
Fraternity Death, Cornell University, New York
February 25, 2011
George Desdunes, a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity member, was found unresponsive in the fraternity house early Friday morning and transported to the hospital, where he later died. Alcohol is reportedly suspected to have been a factor and autopsy results are pending. George was from Brooklyn, New York, and majoring in Biology and Society.
Hazing and Possible Sexual Assault, Yale University
February 19, 2011
An invitation-only party for people seeking to join the Pundits, a senior pranking group at Yale University, included forced consumption of alcohol and allegations of sexual assault. The party led to the hospitalization of 10 students for excessive drinking. Yale police are investigating the hazing and sexual assault complaints.
Fraternity Chapter Suspended for Hazing, Michigan
February 9, 2011
The University of Michigan chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon has been suspended by the University's Interfraternity Council and the national fraternity. The chapter has reportedly admitted to having hazing practices in its pledge program.
Fraternity Shooting Death, Ohio
February 6, 2011
Jamail Johnson, a student at Youngstown State University, was shot and killed at the off-campus fraternity house of Omega Phi Psi. Eleven other people, including six YSU students, were wounded. Two suspects are in custody and face criminal charges.
University Requires Pledges to Take Class, California
January 27, 2011
Stanford University president Nik Milanovic announced by email to the Interfraternity Council that a "non-negotiable component of joining a fraternity" would be a class on alcohol issues, sexual assault and hazing, among other topics. The class is a one-unit pass/fail course.
Fraternity Hazing Death Lawsuit Settled, Utah
January 26, 2011
The family of Michael Starks, an 18-year-old freshman who died during initiation week in November 2008 while attempting to join the Utah State University chapter of Sigma Nu, settled their lawsuit against the University. The terms of the settlement, all non-economic, were for the University to adopt recommendations made by a task force convened by the University following Starks' death, including education on hazing and the dangers of binge drinking.
Fraternity Chapter Sentenced, Pennsylvania
January 25, 2011
The Penn State University chapter of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity was found guilty of furnishing alcohol to minors, resulting in the death freshman Joe Dado, and sentenced to 70 days of community service, one day for each member, to be completed within six months. On September 19, 2009, Joe Dado was given alcohol at the fraternity house and his body was later found at the bottom of a stairwell, having died from a traumatic brain injury sustained in a fall.
Fraternity Members Sentenced, California
January 24, 2011
Four California State University San Marcos Sigma Alpha Epsilon members were sentenced under a plea agreement to probation and 80 hours of community service for their roles in the death of fellow member Patrick Drown. In August 2009, Drown attended a party hosted by Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and was later killed after being struck by a car. If further violations of the Social Host Law, including furnishing of alcohol to minors, occur, the fraternity members will likely be given jail time.
Fraternity Death, Indiana
January 18, 2011
19-year-old Brian Macken died at Bloomington Hospital in Indiana after being found unconscious at the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house on Indiana University’s campus days before. Campus police are investigating whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in his death. Possible fraternity violations are also being investigated.
High School Shooting, California
January 18, 2011
Two 15-year-old students were hospitalized after being injured by the same bullet fired from a 9mm handgun in what may have been an accidental shooting at Gardena High School in Gardena, CA. A sophomore brought the pistol to school in a backpack and the gun apparently shot when he set the backpack down on a desk. One student is recovering from surgery after being shot in the head, the other did not need surgery.
Fraternity and Sorority Shooting Death, Florida
January 9, 2011
Florida State University sophomore Ashley Cowie was shot and killed at the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house in what has been deemed an accidental, but alcohol-related, shooting. Cowie was a member of Chi Omega Sorority. A Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity member has been charged with manslaughter, and the chapter has been suspended.
High School Shooting, Nebraska
January 5, 2011
Lincoln Southwest High School senior Robert Butler, Jr. shot and wounded high school principal Curtis Case and killed vice principal Vicki Kaspar before committing suicide. Butler posted the following statement on his Facebook prior to the shooting:
Everybody that used to know me, I'm sorry, but Omaha changed me and (expletive) me up and the school I now attend is even worse. You are going to hear about the evil (expletive) I did, but that (expletive) school drove me to this. I want you guys to remember me for who I was before this. I know I greatly affected the lives of the families I ruined, but I'm sorry. Goodbye.
Fraternity Pledge Paralyzed, Kansas
September 17, 2010
Matt Fritzie, a freshman at Kansas University, was paralyzed as a result of injuries sustained by having to dive into a homemade pool at the Fiji (Phi Gamma Delta) house at Kansas University. Fritzie was pledging the fraternity at the time. The pool was constructed of tarps and sandbags for the fraternity's "Fiji Island" party.
Lawyers: Virginia Tech Families Settle
From USA TODAY:
Most families of the victims of the massacre at Virginia Tech agreed Thursday to a legal settlement proposed by the state, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said in a statement. Surviving victims and families of the dead will receive a settlement valued at more than $11 million total in cash, health benefits and other assistance, attorneys Peter Grenier and Douglas Fierberg said in a statement Thursday."
Judge Agrees to Virgina Tech Payout
From The Washington Post:
A Circuit Court judge approved an $11 million settlement Tuesday for most of the families of victims of last year's Virginia Tech massacre, but some of them remain dissatisfied and angry over the actions of the state and the school.
Hazing Death at Chico State
From NBC News:
Those who descended these steps of a fraternity house entered a world designed to terrify: The floor, damp with sewage, and the walls, splattered with taunts. Over a door was written, "In the basement nobody can hear you scream." Sometimes secrets can be deadly. In that basement, just what happened to the young man named Matthew Carrington?
Alcohol-saturated 'fun' on campus can be lethal
From USA TODAY:
As students head to the nation's college campuses, relishing their new independence, criminal prosecutions in the deaths of two young men are a sober reminder of how quickly alcohol-fueled "fun" can spin out of control.
Charges were filed this month against students and administrators linked to the recent fire death of a 19-year-old sophomore at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and the alcohol poisoning of a 18-year-old freshman at Rider University in Trenton, N.J.
Suit Filed in California Hazing Death
Settlement Reached for Hazing Death Victim at Rider University
Crime on the Rise at Area Colleges
Why Hazing Cases Don't go Away
Students Sued Over Fatal Rite