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Newsletter > May 2019 > "First Sentences Handed Down following Tim Piazza’s death"
First Sentences Handed Down following Tim Piazza’s death
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, email@example.com
More than two years after the death of Timothy Piazza at Penn State, the first four members of the Beta Theta Pi chapter who were involved in his death have received sentences of jail terms ranging between thirty (30) days and nine (9) months, and a fourth defendant was ordered to serve three-to-ten (3-10) months of house arrest. Press reports indicated that all four had pled guilty to hazing relating charges and that the jail sentences could still be reduced to house arrests. Charges against other members of the chapter remain pending and it is likely there will be more jail sentences.
Gregory Parks, a law professor at Wake Forrest College of Law, a frequent attendee at the Fraternal Law Conference, was quoted extensively in an Associated Press article commenting on the importance of criminal prosecution. According to the article, Parks “seriously doubted that African American fraternity members” would be dealt such light sentences if they had been convicted of the same crime. The article specifically quoted Parks as saying:
I think there’s sympathy for young, educated, good-looking white men… I think that’s part of it. I think folks feel sympathetic towards them even though the victim is usually of the same background. So the organizations have to advocate in ways that deter harmful behavior, but are also mindful of how race plays a major role in the criminal-justice system and how harsher sentences are netted out against people of color.
1 Michelle Mark, 3 Penn State Frat Brothers Were Given Rare Jail Sentences in a 2017 Hazing Case, Insider (Apr. 4, 2019), https://www.insider.com/penn-state-hazing-death-frat-brothers-sentenced-to-jail-2019-4.