Harsher Penalties Sought for Hazing Offenses

Hazing is seen as a natural part of Greek life. For a person to be initiating into a fraternity or sorority, they must endure various rituals that are often humiliating and strenuous. Although many college students, especially members of these organizations, find these rituals necessary and funny, the reality is that the conduct has harmful, and sometimes fatal consequences.

Hazing-Related Death of Ohio University Student

A little over a year ago, an 18-year-old man died after participating in a hazing ritual that required him to ingest a canister of nitrous oxide.

The man had endured abuse from his frat brothers for months before his death. The investigation took over a year, and the fraternity members adhered to a code of silence and said that the young man was responsible for his own death.

Eventually, nine men were indicted on charges related to the young man’s hazing and his death. The case may have significant impacts on the way these matters are prosecuted both in Ohio and across the nation. According to The Dispatch, hazing incidents were rarely reported to law enforcement and instead were handled internally by college and university officials.

Seeking to prevent future hazing death incidents, the man’s parents have been fighting to get lawmakers to impose harsher punishments and greater accountability for such conduct.

Currently, in Ohio, it’s a fourth-degree misdemeanor to force another person to participate in an initiation ritual that causes physical or mental harm. For a conviction, the maximum jail term is 30 days. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says he would support making hazing a felony and having colleges be required to report these incidents to law enforcement.

History of Injury of Hazing Incidents at Other Universities

The Dispatch conducted an investigation into hazing incidents over the years and how they’ve been handled. It found that, in the past 2 decades, only 5 hazing charges were filed in Ohio courts.

Since 2004, 80 students died as a result of a hazing-related incident, and about one person lost their life every year for the past 60 years.

In 2017, a sophomore at Penn State University died after consuming copious amounts of alcohol and falling down the basement stairs. Although the incident happened on the night of February 2, 2017, law enforcement officers weren’t called until the next day. It was alleged that the fraternity brothers waited to report the incident because they were trying to figure out what to do.

According to The Dispatch, in the Penn State Case, although eight members of the fraternity were charged with felony aggravated assault, a judge later reduced the charges to misdemeanors. Three of them were sentenced from 30 days to nine months in jail. Three others were sentenced to house arrest.

Being charged and convicted of a crime could have profound consequences on your future. If you or your child is facing accusations in Dayton, contact Rion, Rion & Rion for aggressive defense. We can be reached by phone at (937) 223-9133 or online.

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