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- Death Leads to Charges and Civil Suit
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Newsletter > March 2013 > "Death Leads to Charges and Civil Suit"
Death Leads to Charges and Civil Suit
Daniel McCarthy, Manley Burke
On August 31, 2012, members of Theta Chi chapter at Fresno State allegedly locked 15 pledges in a room with eight bottles of hard liquor and told the pledges not to leave until the bottles were gone. Over the course of approximately 80 to 90 minutes, Philip Dhanens, a freshman who had just arrived on campus, drank an estimated 37 one-ounce shots of various liquors. According to a news statement from the District Attorney, Mr. Dhanens died with a blood alcohol content of .40, which is more than five times the legal limit to drive a car in California.
In response, Theta Chi revoked the chapter’s charter and Fresno State withdrew the chapter’s recognition. The District Attorney also announced criminal charges on March 12, 2013 against three members of the chapter. Leonard Serrato, Aaron Raymo and Daniel Woodard were charged with misdemeanor violations of hazing and providing alcohol to a person under 21 years of age proximately causing death. The charges carry a potential jail sentence of six months to one year in custody and a fine of up to $5,000.
In the news statement, the District Attorney stated, “Across the country since 2010, student deaths from binge drinking and hazing events have increased. *** Each year across the country as parents say farewell to their children as they leave home to attend college, it is society’s job to raise awareness to lethal danger of binge drinking.”
Shortly after the criminal charges were announced the family of Mr. Dhanes filed a civil suit against Theta Chi and six of members, including the three who also face criminal charges. We will provide updates as both the criminal and civil cases proceed.