Penn State students charged over 'inhumane' hazing death of fraternity member

Posted May 07, 2017

Piazza, 19, of Lebanon, New Jersey died February 4 at Penn State Hershey Medical Center after he fell down stairs at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house in State College during a party on February 2. The fraternity and eight members face involuntary manslaughter, hazing charges and providing alcohol to minors.

Timothy Piazza suffered fatal injuries when he fell down a set of stairs with his friends failing to get help for him for many hours, authorities claim. Young and Casey are also charged with tampering with evidence.

Beta Theta Pi has been disbanded at Penn State University.

Those responsible for the death of a Penn State University fraternity pledge "deserve to be punished", the attorney for the family of the student, Timothy Piazza, told CNN. He's later shown trying unsuccessfully to open the front door, then "severely staggering drunkenly toward the basement steps" at about 10.45pm, the grand jury report said.

"The grand jury finds that..."

"For anyone looking across the national landscape, you realize that we have a national problem that is associated with excessive drinking", Barron said.

Four brothers allegedly carried him upstairs after the fall and placed him on a couch that night, but no one called 911 until the next morning.

"The government assumes that these young men, many of whom were intoxicated themselves, should have been able to differentiate symptoms of extreme intoxication from symptoms of a life threatening head injury", said his attorney, Steven Trialonas of State College, Pennsylvania. The investigation benefited from video evidence from surveillance cameras inside the fraternity's house, which is privately owned.

Eight of the fraternity brothers and the chapter were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

He was one of several students who were seeking membership in the fraternity, a process known as pledging.

Beta Theta Pi's worldwide fraternity in a statement called the "nature of the charges incredibly disheartening" and said it stood by its decision to suspend and disband the local chapter.

"The alleged details in the grand jury presentment, which suggest the inhumane treatment of a student forced through hazing to consume unsafe amounts of alcohol and endure hours of suffering, are sickening and hard to understand", Barron said.

The father of a Penn State student who died after falling down a flight of steps during an alcohol-fueled fraternity pledge night is calling the loss "a senseless and very preventable tragedy".

"Beta Theta Pi International Fraternity has clearly and consistently expressed its position that it does not tolerate hazing or alcohol abuse in any form by its members", said Jim Ewbank, counsel for the international fraternity.

In a statement responding to the grand jury investigation and charges, Penn State President Eric Barron called the findings "heart-wrenching and incomprehensible".

"No parent should have to go through this", Jim Piazza said.

He also wrote that the chapter, which had a policy banning alcohol, appeared to be a "model" fraternity.

Friday, the Centre County district attorney announced 18 members of the organization now face criminal charges. That will occur for the other defendants next week, Miller said.

"Although for the entirety of this investigation I have not been notified of any sorority being present, this provides a call to action, not just to the fraternity community, but to all of us at Penn State", Saper said in a written statement.