- ACLU AND SIGMA ALPHA MU CHALLENGE CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY
- CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST RIDER U. OFFICIALS
- SUMMARY OF SCHEDULES AND FILING PROFILE June 14, 2007
- DRAFT REVISED FORM 990 ISSUED
- FILING REQUIREMENTS FOR EXEMPT ENTITIES NOT CURRENTLY REQUIRED TO FILE FORM 990
- SECOND CIRCUIT REVERSES FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION CASE
Newsletter > November 2007 > "CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST RIDER U. OFFICIALS"
CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST RIDER U. OFFICIALS
Daniel McCarthy, Manley Burke
filed hazing charges against five individuals, including two Rider University administrators, following the binge-drinking death of Gary DeVercelly. Mr. DeVercelly, a pledge of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, died in March from alcohol poisoning. His blood alcohol level was .426, more than five times the legal limit.
Three weeks after the Prosecutor, Joseph Boccini, Jr., filed charges against Dean of Students Anthony Campbell and director of Greek life Ada Badgley, all charges were dropped against the administrators. The Prosecutor told the Associated Press that he was unsure from the beginning whether the charges would result in convictions. According to the A.P., Mr. Boccini stated that the Grand Jury was “upset with the University. This was an emotional case.”
The New Jersey hazing statute provides: “A person is guilty of hazing, a disorderly persons offense, if, in connection with initiation of applicants to or members of a student or fraternal organization, he knowingly or recklessly organizes, promotes, facilitates or engages in any conduct, other than competitive athletic events, which places or may place another person in danger of bodily injury.” It was difficult to imagine how the Prosecutor could have established the necessary elements for the administrators. Apparently, the Prosecutor agreed, but unfortunately not until after filing the charges. This case should serve as a reminder that both school and Greek leaders must ensure they are doing everything possible to prevent and eliminate hazing.
Charges were also filed against three students. At least two of the students, Dominic Olsen and Adriano DiDonato, will avoid prison time. Both defendants applied for, and were accepted into, a pretrial intervention program, which allows defendants to forgo prison and follow a supervised rehabilitation program. The third student charged, Michael Torney, was not eligible for the program and turned down a plea deal from prosecutors. Mr. Torney’s trial date has not been set.
In response to Mr. DeVercelly’s death, Rider created a task force to examine the University’s alcohol policy. According to the New York Times, one of the task force’s recommendations included eliminating fraternities and sororities on campus. Thankfully, the University rejected that idea, according to Debbie Stasolla, Rider’s associate vice president for planning, partly because of a fear that such a move would push binge drinking off campus. Rider did implement several of the task force’s recommendations, including banning alcohol on most of the campus, requiring that freshmen take a seminar on the dangers of alcohol, and creating stiffer penalties for violating the alcohol rules.
Look for updates on the evolving status of this case in future issues of Fraternal Law.