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- HAZING — THE CRIMINAL CONSEQUENCES
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- 2004 Fraternal Law Conference November 19-20, 2004 — Cincinnati, Ohio
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Newsletter > January 2004 > "HAZING — THE CRIMINAL CONSEQUENCES"
HAZING — THE CRIMINAL CONSEQUENCES
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, email@example.com
As has previously been reported in Fraternal Law, most states now have laws making hazing a criminal act that can subject the wrongdoer to jail time and fines. While the criminal act of hazing is typically only a misdemeanor with penalties up to only relatively short-term jail sentences, the conduct involved in horrific hazing incidents can constitute much more serious crimes and consequent penalties.
Three relatively recent incidents of hazing have received national attention and led to serious criminal charges.
The December 22, 2003 issue of Sports Illustrated carried a “Special Report: Hazing, a High School Tragedy.” The article reported on hazing by members of Long Island’s Mepham High School football team during their annual pre-season camp. Older team members violently hazed newer team members with a variety of brutal actions, including sodomizing them with, according to Sports Illustrated, a broomstick, pine cones and golf balls. Subsequently, two of the ringleaders pled guilty as juveniles to multiple counts of “involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.” Their punishment could include any number of options, from probation to incarceration of up to placement in a wilderness boot camp or residency in a treatment center until they reach the age of 21. Sports Illustrated reports that a Grand Jury on Long Island continues to investigate whether or not to bring charges against others.
In Texas, eight members of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at Southern Methodist University could face up to 20 years in prison for forcing pledges to consume gallons of water, drink hot sauce and subject themselves to beatings with wooden paddles. According to a report in the Dallas Morning News on December 14, 2003, one new member “went into a coma, suffering from pulmonary edema, a condition in which water enters the lungs, and hyponatremia, a sodium imbalance brought on by excess fluid consumption.”
In Plattsburgh, New York, eleven members of a State University of New York fraternity were charged after one new member was forced to drink excessive amounts of water through a funnel. That new member subsequently died and the students involved were charged with a variety of crimes, including negligent homicide. They ultimately were allowed to plead guilty to hazing.
The unfortunate consequences of hazing too often leave long lasting emotional, as well as physical, scars on the victims. In the most tragic cases, deaths have occurred. As described above, when such events occur, increasingly in states all across this country, criminal consequences are being imposed on the wrongdoers. Prosecutors can increasingly be expected to seek harsh penalties when the conduct is particularly outrageous. However, even misdemeanor hazing convictions can leave the perpetrator with a lot of explaining to do later in life when asked on a job application “have you ever been convicted of a crime?”