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Entries in Hazing (20)

Friday
Jun072013

FAMU Drum Major Sentenced to House Arrest in Hazing Death

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- One of the former Florida A&M University drum majors charged in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion was sentenced Friday to house arrest and probation for his role in his band mate's death.

Rikki Wills, 25, was one of the five drum majors who led Champion's funeral march, escorting his casket during the funeral.

Champion, 26, was a member of the college's famed "Marching 100" band when he collapsed and died Nov. 19, 2011 on a bus parked outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel after a football game.

The death was ruled a homicide and Champion's torso was covered with bruises that were inflicted during a brutal hazing ritual that contributed to his death, according to investigators.

Wills was sentenced to one year of "community control"--a formal name for house arrest--and five years of state probation.

In May, Wills pleaded no contest to felony hazing resulting in death and his attorney said he has "owned up to what his part was."

"He acknowledges that he was on the bus and he basically did a pull-through, basically trying to help Robert stay on his feet and continue to the back of the bus as fast as possible so he didn't get struck," Wills' attorney William Hancock told ABCNews.com today after the sentencing.

"He felt he was doing everything he could to protect him," Hancock said.

More than 2,000 pages of evidence from the investigation into Champion's death were released by the Florida District Attorney's Office in May 2012, which delivered a blow-by-blow of the events from the night of Champion's death.

Champion endured a lethal pummeling down the aisle of a pitch-black bus that rocked from the force of the violence inside, according to the documents.

Champion struggled, with a female band member holding him back to prolong the punishment, through a gauntlet of band mates who used their fists, feet, straps and sticks to pound him into unconsciousness.
"Rikki felt that he had done everything he possibly could to talk Robert out of doing this and was acutely surprised when Robert participated in the hazing," Hancock said.

He added that he believes FAMU is more to blame than the students who participated in the hazing ritual.

"I really think the blame falls greater on the institution that perpetuated the hazing than the participants, but he certainly owned up to his personal responsibility," Hancock said.

Champion's parents traveled to Orange County, Fla., for the hearing from their home in Georgia. The Champion family's attorney was not immediately available for comment.

Thirteen FAMU band members were charged in relation to Champion's death.

The first defendant sentenced in Champion's death was Brian Jones, 24, who got two years of probation and 200 hours of community service in October 2012.

"The judge had stated that your part in Robert's death was really minimal, but you and I know that's not true," Champion's mother Pamela Champion told Jones in court. "It will always be there haunting you. We both know that."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar042013

Former Florida A&M Band Members Facing Upgraded Charges in Drum Major's Death

Champion Family Photo(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A new state prosecutor has raised the stakes in the case involving members of the Florida A&M University marching band, who are accused of hazing drum major, Robert Champion, resulting in his death. Including two additional defendants, 12 people are now charged with manslaughter.

Previous charges for felony hazing resulting in death had been filed against 10 former band members. Now, the 10 and two additional defendants are charged with manslaughter, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Bill Sharpe, an attorney for suspect Rikki Willis, called the upgraded charges ludicrous.

"He's disturbed, scared. Anybody would be. This is frightening to him. You know, he's lost everything he was trying to do," Sharpe said Monday.

In November 2011, Champion was beaten to death in Orlando. The 26-year-old died after collapsing, following what prosecutors call a savage hazing ritual. It happened on a bus at a hotel parking lot after FAMU played Bethune Cookman for the annual Florida Classic.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec192012

Authorities Issue 22 Arrest Warrants over NIU Frat Hazing Death

Comstock/Thinkstock(DEKALB, Ill.) -- Authorities in Dekalb, Ill., have issued 22 warrants for the arrest of students at Northern Illinois University for violating the state's hazing statute in connection with the November death of a freshman at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house.

David Bogenberger, 19, died on Nov. 2 of a cardiac arrhythmia, with alcohol intoxication as a significant condition contributing to death, at an unsanctioned party, the Dekalb Police Department said.  At the time of his death, Bogenberger's alcohol level was at five times the legal limit, according to the DeKalb County Coroner's Office.

Lt. Jason Leverton with the DeKalb Police Department told ABC News that two of the students charged voluntarily turned themselves in Tuesday night, and are now out on bond.

"What we did is reach out by phone, let them know charges were filed and gave them the opportunity to turn themselves in," Leverton said.  "We'll check back in a few days, wherever they are."

Warrants for class 4 felony hazing were issued to five of the fraternity's leaders, including the president and vice president, while 17 members of the fraternity, who according to police "are the individuals that actively participated in the provision of alcohol," were issued arrest warrants for class A misdemeanor hazing.

Leverton said that the school shut down the fraternity after Bogenberger's death, though some of those who have been issued warrants may still reside at the privately-owned house.  He said that, as far as he knows, the students are still attending NIU, but as of the weekend, many have left for holiday break.

On Nov. 2, the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity held a party called the "parent's night," which involved the assignment of "Greek dads and moms" to students pledging the frat, police said.  The Greek dads are upper classmen in the fraternity that serve as mentors to the pledges, while the Greek moms are members of associated sororities.

The "parent's night" involved the pledges rotating between several rooms in the fraternity house, being asked a series of questions, and then being provided cups of vodka and other liquor to drink.  This resulted in the pledges drinking a large quantity of alcohol in about a two-hour time period.

"[Bogenberger] was friendly, he was gregarious, he liked to be liked, he wanted to be accepted and the terms that were placed on his acceptance into this fraternity were ultimately fatal to David," Peter Coladarci, the attorney for the Bogenberger family said.  "It's a national problem.  Over 1,800 kids between 18 and 24 die every year, alcohol and unintended alcohol-related incidents, many of them hazing related."

Pail Palian, director of media and public relations for NIU, said that the school is investigating the incident separately from the police.

"We placed the fraternity with temporary sanctions, which [included] the temporary loss of student organization recognition," he said.  "That did not allow the frat house to conduct any business."

On Dec. 7, the university delivered the fraternity notification that 31 members of the frat, or those seeking membership, were in violation of the student code of conduct.  Palian said the school is cooperating with the local police, and that if they receive more information based on the police investigation, they will alter some of the cases that students are facing, on a case by case basis.

Gary and Ruth Bogenberger released a statement in conjunction with the issuing of the arrest warrants.

"[We] must acknowledge the concern we feel for the families of those charged today.  The events of Nov. 1 and 2 unalterably changed the course of too many lives.  And for what?" they said in the statement.  "We have no desire for revenge.  Rather, we hope that some significant change will come from David's death."

The five students facing felony charges could get one to three years in prison, if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct222012

Hazing Death Plea Gets Leniency, But Not from Victim's Mom

Champion Family Photo(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- The first of a dozen defendants charged in the hazing death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion appears to have gotten off easy with the judge Monday, but not with Champion's mother.

Champion, 26, was a member of the college's famed "Marching 100" band when he collapsed and died Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel after a football game.

Champion's parents sat steely-eyed and stared straight ahead as the judge explained his reasoning for sentencing Brian Jones, 24, to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service.

Moments earlier, the judge made an exception and allowed Champion's mother Pamela Champion to directly and sternly address Jones. She explained her thought process when deciding what to say to him.

"I thought about expressing the agony and pain that my family has gone through because of you. I thought of expressing the torment I go through each and every day knowing that I will never see Robert because of you," she said. "I even thought of expressing my anger, my disappointment in all the deceitful lies, the corruption, the ruthlessness, the mishandling of my son's murder."

In the end, she said, she decided to pose a series of questions to Jones. She asked him how long he could hide the truth, how he could live with the lie and what punishment he deserved.

"The judge had stated that your part in Robert's death was really minimal, but you and I know that's not true," she said. "It will always be there haunting you. We both know that."

Champion's father Robert Champion also addressed the court, speaking with "a lot of mixed emotions and a heavy heart."

"This is an opportunity that we can take to tell the world that we are not going to accept hazing. It's a thing of the past and it starts now with holding these people responsible for what they did," he said. "It's been going on too long and this is time to make a statement."

Jones' mother expressed her "deepest" and "sincerest" sympathy to the Champion family, but pleaded with the judge to show mercy to her son who told her that he was not involved in Champion's death.

"I've taught Brian to talk to me and tell me the truth," Jacquelin Jones said. "I'm convinced that my son told me the truth."

Jones was the last to tearfully address the court.

"I stand before you today still in shock, but with a sound mind and humble heart," he sniffed. "I just want the world to know that I'm sorry for the death of your son Robert. I truly am. No words or anything I could do would be sufficient enough to express how regretful I am of the loss of Robert."

He said the band's behavior was "completely inexcusable" and that the events of the night "went further than anyone imagined, wanted or thought." Jones said his "heart continues to ache at the thought of what happened."

Jones said he did not know Champion, but had heard of his high character, academic talents and precise marching skills. Through tears, he called Champion a "role model for excellence."

Jones was charged with a third-degree felony. He entered a no-contest plea on Oct. 9 after originally pleading not guilty.

Judge Marc Lubet called the sentencing an "extremely difficult situation" and said he had to look at Jones in terms of a ladder of culpability and prosecutors did not have any evidence that Jones hit or hurt Champion. Lubet quoted Abraham Lincoln before announcing the sentence, saying, "Mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."

"I could destroy his life right this minute, but, once again, based on all the facts of this case, I think the quote from Abraham Lincoln is very, very pertinent," Lubet said. "I think you're worth saving."

The judge even commended Jones for being the first defendant to come forward and "take some responsibility."

In addition to the probation and community service, Jones was ordered to have no contact with the Champion family unless they were to initiate it and no contact with any of the other defendants.

Thirteen FAMU band members have been charged in relation to Champion's death. Eleven of the band members face felony hazing charges and the other two face misdemeanor hazing charges. The defendants have pleaded not guilty.

In May, over 2,000 pages of evidence from the investigation into Champion's death were released by the Florida District Attorney's Office, which delivered a blow-by-blow of the events from the night of Robert Champion's death.

Champion endured a lethal pummeling down the aisle of a pitch-black bus that rocked from the force of the violence inside, according to the documents.

Champion struggled, with a female band member holding him back to prolong the punishment, through a gauntlet of band mates who used their fists, feet, straps and sticks to pound him into unconsciousness.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep242012

Coach Probed in Sex Abuse Hazing Accusations

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Four high school varsity players have been arrested and a faculty member suspended in a growing investigation of hazing that included sexual abuse at a southern California high school.

The investigation that began with complaints by members of La Puente High School’s boys soccer team has spread to other teams, and police interviews have included students who played for the school’s teams as far back as 10 years ago, Sgt. Dan Scott of the Special Victims Bureau told ABC News, with the investigation focusing on the past three to four years.

A faculty member has been suspended with pay in connection with the allegations.

“There is a teacher coach involved, and we don’t know the degree of involvement,” Superintendent Barbara Nakaoka said in a press conference.

An attorney for the victims says the faculty member encouraged the hazing, ABC affiliate KABC-TV reports, but police say they haven’t found anything to indicate any adults were involved.

The initial allegations related to incidents that happened between March and August of this year, and were against varsity soccer players, KABC reports.

The subsequent investigation revealed the alleged hazing may be more widespread, and likely has gone on for several years.

Brian Claypool, the lawyer for three of the victims, said the abuse involved a coach who allegedly lured younger players to a back room where varsity students attempted to sodomize them with foreign objects.

He said the hazing “has been going on for quite some time.” Claypool said one victim was treated at the hospital for his injuries, KABC reported.

The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Superintendents office issued a statement calling the allegations “deeply disturbing.”

Because the students involved are minors, police withheld specifics about the hazing, but Scott noted the Special Victims Bureau handles cases of both physical and sexual abuse. He also said there were multiple acts perpetrated against multiple children.

The students who were arrested Friday have since been released.

A friend of one of the accused told KABC she was shocked by the allegations.

“If they were part of it, I didn’t expect them to be a part of it,” Ashley Acosta said. “They are really cool. You could go to them for anything if you needed help with anything.”

The school district isn’t saying what disciplinary action they are taking against the students, citing privacy concerns.

Law enforcement is asking anyone with further information into the allegations to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep112012

Parents of Hazing Victim 'Appalled' FAMU Blames Son for His Own Death

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- The parents of hazing victim Robert Champion are "appalled" that Florida A&M University is insisting in court papers that their son was responsible for his own beating death during a hazing incident at the school.

"It's startling that they would blame the victim for his own death," Champion family attorney Christopher Chestnut told ABC News Tuesday. "FAMU is pointing the finger at everyone else but themselves, including their own students."

Chestnut said that Champion's parents, Robert and Pamela Champion, are "appalled" by the university's claim, but that they're "more committed than ever" to abolishing the culture of hazing at the school.

"Arguably, part of the reason the culture still exists is because the blame has always been on anyone except for the institution, by the institution," Chestnut said. "FAMU is always blaming other people, never taking responsibility."

The university filed a motion on Monday night to dismiss Champion's parents' wrongful-death lawsuit against the school.

Champion, 26, was a member of the college's famed "Marching 100" band when he collapsed and died Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel after a football game.

FAMU claims that the hazing occurred after Champion was "relieved of his responsibilities" as a band member and had already gone back to his room and changed out of his band uniform.

"No, he was on the clock," Chestnut said. "This is a school sanctioned event. It's in a bus they chartered, at a hotel they designated for him to stay at exclusively with members and staff of this institution."

The university's motion also points out that Champion signed a "Hazing and Harassment Agreement" months before his death in which he acknowledged understanding the "dangers of participating in hazing, either as a hazer or a hazee."

"It is undisputed that Mr. Champion knew that existence of the danger (hazing) of which Plaintiff now complains, he realized and appreciated the possibility of injuries as a result of such danger, and notwithstanding the opportunity to avoid the danger simply by not showing up at the designated place and time, he deliberately exposed himself to the danger," the motion said.

Chestnut called the reference to the signed agreement a "tongue-in-cheek" move by the school.

"Everyone signed that agreement, but they also knew that unless you were hazed, you weren't accepted," he said.

The school called the other band members on the bus "Mr. Champion's co-conspirators" and said there was no allegation or evidence that Champion reported the hazing event or tried to stop anyone from participating.

"Florida's sovereign immunity bars Plaintiff's claim against FAMU because Mr. Champion agreed, conspired, combined or confederated with others to do unlawful acts, and encouraged, requested or helped cause others to commit such unlawful acts."

The filing said that even if one assumes that Champion did not commit any crimes in relation to the hazing, he at least "participated as a hazee."

The motion also cites the sworn statement given by band mate Keon Hollis, who was also hazed the night of Champion's death.

After Hollis and Champion changed out of their band uniforms and returned to the hotel following the football game, Hollis said Champion asked him if we was going to "cross the bus," which is how they referred to the hazing ritual that took place on a bus.

Hollis said that when he told Champion he was going to participate, Champion "stated to me that he was going to cross as well. I asked him if he were [sic] sure he wanted to do it and he stated, 'Yea, I just want to get it over with.'"

"In the final analysis, neither Mr. Champion, Mr. Hollis, hotel security, nor law enforcement experts ... were able to predict or prevent this shocking and depraved hazing incident, and therefore, it would be unfair and illogical to hold FAMU to a different and higher level of omnipotence," the motion states.

The Champions alleged in their lawsuit that the school did not do enough to stop the hazing that was a well-known tradition within the marching band.

"Our whole goal here is to make sure no one else has to go through what we've gone through and in order to do that there needs to be some accountability," Pamela Champion said in July.

The lawsuit also seeks monetary compensation for the Champion family for reasons including "past and future mental pain and suffering," "past and future loss of decedent's support and services," and expenses from medical care and funeral arrangements.

FAMU denied that money is owed to the Champions.

"Respectfully, as a 26 year old adult and leader in FAMU's band, Mr. Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or University administrators," the motion says. "Under these circumstances, Florida's taxpayers should not be held financially liable to Mr. Champion's Estate for the ultimate result of his own imprudent, avoidable and tragic decision and death."

Thirteen FAMU band members have been charged in relation to Champion's death. Eleven of the band members face felony hazing charges and the other two face misdemeanor hazing charges. The defendants have pleaded not guilty.

In May, over 2,000 pages of evidence from the investigation into Champion's death were released by the Florida District Attorney's Office, which delivered a blow-by-blow account of the events from the night of Robert Champion's death.

Champion endured a lethal pummeling down the aisle of a pitch-black bus that rocked from the force of the violence inside, according to the documents.

Champion struggled, with a female band member holding him back to prolong the punishment, through a gauntlet of band mates who used their fists, feet, straps and sticks to pound him into unconsciousness.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun262012

Teacher Accused of Ordering Students to Haze, Assault Others

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(FONTANA, Calif.) -- More students than initially suspected were assaulted in a high school hazing incident in which a teacher and four students were arrested, police said Monday.

Detectives in Fontana, Calif., have identified at least three students who they say were victims of classroom assaults beginning May 31, the first day of summer school at AB Miller High School.

Police have not released the details of the incidents, but say the hazing occurred over the course of the past three weeks. Public booking records for the arrested teacher and one 18-year-old student, however, shed some light on the severity of the attacks including "attempted sodomy."

On Saturday, technology teacher Emmanuel De La Rosa, 27, was arrested and charged with child cruelty. Four other students were also charged, including Fernando Manuel Selgado, 18, who was charged with assault, child cruelty and attempted sodomy, according to arrest records.

The three other students were minors and their names have not been made public.

"We have reason to believe this was a hazing incident," Fontana police spokesman Robert Morris told ABC News. "The teacher, we believe, knew about the hazing and in some cases over saw it and facilitated it."

Morris said that on at least one occasion it appeared that De La Rosa ordered students to haze their classmates in order to discipline them.

"If there were behavioral issues in the classroom and the teacher wanted students to conform to certain rules, he may have given directions," Morris said.

Fontana school district police alerted city authorities about reports of hazing on Saturday morning. By Saturday evening Fontana police had arrested De La Rosa and four students.

Morris said detectives continue to interview students and the number of victims and suspects could rise.

Counselors were on hand Monday morning to talk to students in De La Rosa's masonry class, school district Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks told ABC News.

De La Rosa was a regular faculty member in the school's technology department. Citing privacy concerns Olsen-Binks could not comment on De La Rosa's tenure at the school or if he had been the focus of disciplinary procedures, but said he was "very popular" and "his students have had great success."

There were between 20 and 25 students in his class this summer. The term ends on Friday.

"This is an isolated incident," said the superintendent. "We are very concerned and don't take these allegations lightly. Our concern is for the students first and foremost."

Following the police investigation, the school will conduct its own internal investigation, she said.

De La Rosa posted $100,000 bail and was released on Saturday. Calls to his home were not answered.

Selgado remains in custody at a jail in Rancho Cucamonga. Neither man has been arraigned or entered a plea, nor does either have a lawyer at this time.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun052012

New York Students Charged for Paddling Middle Schoolers

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Three New York high school students face felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with the alleged hazing of eighth graders in their suburban town in an annual "freshman Friday" ritual.

Sean Pinson and Tristan Scragg, both 17, and Max Meyerson, 16, allegedly kidnapped several teens at Rye Public Library, forced them into a car and drove them to a wildlife conservancy, where they paddled two of the boys with a "large piece of lumber," police said.

One student was hit so hard that he sustained injuries requiring medical attention at a hospital.  Police are asking other possible victims to come forward.  More arrests may be made in the case, police said.

The alleged attackers, who are juniors at Rye High School, were arrested on Saturday and charged as adults with assault, hazing and unlawful imprisonment.  They were arraigned Monday night and released without bail.

The incident was part of what students call "freshman Friday," a ritual that targets incoming freshman.

"It's been happening for a number of years," one student told ABC News affiliate WABC.  "They don't usually do anything about it, the cops."

Edward J. Shine, superintendent of the Rye City School District, disputed the fact that "Freshman Friday" is a tradition.

"Some have suggested that these alleged acts are part of an annual 'tradition' at Rye High School.  Let me be clear: just because a small handful of students choose to believe that this is the case, does not make it a fact.  Our school district and our educators put a premium on student safety, respect, and dignity, and work diligently each day to inspire these traits in our students," the superintendent said in a statement to parents.

Shine said that officials are "greatly disturbed" by the allegations.

"Though this incident occurred outside of the school day and off school grounds, we must stress that there is, quite simply, no place in our schools or society for violent acts like those that have been alleged.  While this is, first and foremost, a serious legal matter for the young men who have been arrested, these students will also face severe disciplinary consequences as students of the Rye public schools," read the statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May242012

Hazing Assault on FAMU Drum Major Detailed in Documents

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Over 2,000 pages of evidence from the investigation into Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion's death were released by the Florida District Attorney's Office and they deliver a blow-by-blow of the night's events.

They also describe a culture that considers repeated "hot seat" beatings and the final "crossing over" gauntlet that killed Champion as rites of passage.

Band members said that the band director and bus driver were not on the bus for the "crossing over," but that they were sometimes up front watching movies during the "hot seat" beatings.

Jonathan Boyce, the head band member now charged with felony hazing, told detectives that Champion "was wanting to do it [cross over] all season," but Boyce had been reluctant to let him.  Champion could not participate without Boyce's permission, as dictated by the band's internal code of hierarchy.

The band was in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 19, 2011 for the last game of the football season.  Boyce asked Champion if he still wanted to participate.

"I was like, 'Do you still want to do it?'  So he was like, 'Yes,'" Boyce told detectives.  "I was like, 'Fine.'"

Champion, 26, was a member of the college's famed "Marching 100" band when he collapsed and died Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel after a football game.  His death was ruled a homicide and 11 people have been charged with felony hazing and two have been charged with misdemeanor hazing in connection to Champion's death.

That night, Boyce said he was in a friend's room at the hotel when he got a call that Champion was going to do it, so he rushed to the bus to "try to save him," according to his interview with the police.

Meanwhile, Champion had begun the hazing.  He was shirtless as dictated by the band's rules --women wear only sports bras as they "cross over" -- and he was the third band member to try to make his way to the back of bus that night.

Ryan Dean, another band member indicted for felony hazing, told detectives that he yelled into Champion's ear, "Come on, push through."  A woman was holding Champion back as fists rained down on him.

Keon Hollis went with Champion to the bus for the "crossing over."  When asked to explain the process, Hollis said, "Basically, get on the bus and you have to take your shirt off and you basically have to make it from the front of the bus to the back of the bus." 

Hollis told the detective that the goal is to "just get through it as quick as you can."

"They was using hands, straps, think [I] saw a comb," he said.  Hollis said they used drum sticks and kicks as well.

At the end of the ordeal, Hollis walked back to the front of the bus, through applause and "hooting and hollering" from his band mates.  When he got outside the bus, he threw up.

While Hollis tried to compose himself, Champion started down the aisle.  He battled through the storm of fists and feet with a female band member holding him back to prolong the punishment.

At its most severe, Champion collapsed into a seat, prompting a band member to brace himself on seat backs and jump up and down on the drum major for an estimated 15 seconds.  Champion was greeted with a flurry of seven to 10 punches when he pushed himself free and resumed his death march down the bus aisle.

At least one band member jumped from seat to seat to get to the back of the bus to get another chance at Champion.

"By the time I got there he was maybe like a foot or two away from the back of the bus," Boyce said.  "So I climbed over the seats all the way to the back."

When he reached Champion, Boyce said he grabbed him "to try to keep everybody off of him" and "put my body around his body" to try to stop the beating.

Moments later, Champion touched the wall indicating that he had made it to the back.

Champion asked for water and they gave him Gatorade.  He complained that he was having trouble breathing and that he couldn't see, though his eyes were wide open.

Band members got him to the steps of the bus, but he continued to say that he could not breathe.

"I checked him, he wasn't saying anything…he wasn't responsive or anything," band member Darryl Cearnel told detectives.  Cearnel said he had first aid training.  "They was calling his name and [he] wasn't saying anything.  And I checked his pulse."

They had Champion lay on the ground and someone called 911 while Cearnel did CPR.  Moments later an ambulance arrived.  Champion died on the way to the hospital.

Though band members told detectives that Champion "never approved" of the hazing rituals, they also said that in order to be considered for leadership positions, one had to cross over.

"Crossing over" was only one aspect of the band's hazing traditions.  Multiple band members told investigators that they were routinely called to the back of the bus by a tap on the shoulder by older students for a "hot seat" after doing something wrong.

In the "hot seat" they would have a blanket thrown over them and they were pummeled with fists, drum sticks and bass drum mallets.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May022012

FAMU Hazing Charges Expected in Drum Major's Death

On the day Robert Champion died, he texted his parents a photograph of himself with a young boy from a children's marching band. (Champion Family Photo)(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Criminal charges are expected to be filed Wednesday against members of the Florida A&M University marching band who were involved in the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion last November.

Champion, 26, was a member of the college's famed "Marching 100" band when he collapsed and died Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel after a football game. The death was ruled a homicide and police said hazing contributed to his death.

An autopsy revealed that he died of internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma. Officials said that he had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back.

The charges will be announced at a news conference at the state attorney's office Wednesday following a six-month investigation.

Some band members have said that Champion died after participating in a rite of passage called "crossing bus C," a ritual where new band members are beaten as they walk from the back to the front of the bus.

Four students were dismissed from the university after Champion's death, but were later reinstated pending the investigation's completion. The school's band director Julian White was fired, but later reinstated and put on administrative leave.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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