Florida marching band charged over 'hazing' death

 

Prosecutors in Orlando announced that they were charging 12  former members of a university marching band with manslaughter, for their part in the hazing ritual that led to the death of a drum major.

Robert Champion was killed by a savage beating in November 2011, soon after his university, Florida A&M, lost its annual football grudge match away to rivals Bethune-Cookman. The 26-year-old Florida A&M university drum major died, however, at the hands of his own team.

Ten of the band members were charged with felony hazing last year, but prosecutors decided to raise the charges to manslaughter, and to charge two additional defendants. In a brutal initiation ritual, Champion was forced to crawl along the aisle of the team’s bus while being beaten and kicked by fellow students. He collapsed and died of internal bleeding within an hour of the attack. The medical examiner’s report cited “multiple blunt trauma blows to his body.”

Tracy Maxwell, the founder of HazingPrevention.org, said it was rare for hazing perpetrators to be charged with manslaughter. “But it’s difficult to convict someone for hazing, due to the confusion about its definition,” Maxwell told The Independent. “So the courts often have more luck charging perpetrators with some kind of abuse or, in this case, manslaughter. It’s easy to minimise this sort of activity by calling it ‘hazing’, but when people see that this was in fact manslaughter, it sends a strong message to students about their actions and the consequences.”

Hazing is longstanding tradition at US colleges, whereby prospective members of sports teams, fraternity houses and the like are subjected to formal initiation rites, which generally involve excessive drinking and public humiliation. A recent study by the University of Maine found that 54 per cent of the nation’s young people had taken part in the practice, which has reportedly led to at least one death per year since 1970. Hazing is now illegal in 44 states and banned by almost every US university, though it continues unchecked on many campuses.

In December 2012, 22 students from Northern Illinois University were charged with hazing, following the demise of 19-year-old freshman David Bogenberger, who spent the night before his death from alcohol poisoning downing vodka as part of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity’s “parents’ night” hazing ritual.

In October, a lawsuit was filed by the family of Victoria Carter, an East Carolina University student killed in a car accident in 2010. Her parents allege she died because both Carter and the driver of the vehicle had been suffering from sleep deprivation as a result of their Delta Sigma sorority’s “Hell Week” hazing test.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links