Hazing reported at Florida professor's home, police say no charges

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 28, 2012 7:59 PM
Hazing reported at Florida professor's home, police say no charges

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida college roiled by the hazing death of a marching band drum major last fall now faces allegations that other students were previously subjected to hazing at a music professor's home, police said on Wednesday.

However, prosecutors have declined to file charges in the incident said to have occurred at a spaghetti party for members and pledges of a band fraternity at Florida A&M University due to a statute of limitations issue, according to a police report.

Police in Tallahassee, Florida, where the school is located, found that physical hazing occurred in the spring of 2010 at the off-campus residence of Diron Holloway, a saxophone professor at the university.

According to police, a student told investigators that 14 fraternity pledges were held in a bedroom and brought in pairs into the living room, where they were hit on the back and neck.

The pledges were also paddled with a thick piece of wood, said the student, who said he was bruised after being paddled 20-25 times.

The student, who told police he wanted to remain anonymous and as a result would not press charges, said he witnessed Holloway hitting another pledge on the back and neck.

Holloway did not return email and phone requests for comment.

FAMU president James Ammons called the allegations in the police report "extremely disturbing" in a statement issued after the report was released on Wednesday.

"The allegations of hazing, which appear to have occurred off-campus in 2010, are currently under further administrative and legal review," Ammons said.

"The University will take appropriate action against faculty members or students, up to and including dismissals."


Concerns about a culture of hazing at FAMU, one of Florida's historically black colleges and home to the renowned "Marching 100" band, arose last November when drum major Robert Champion, 26, was beaten to death in a band hazing ritual aboard a charter bus during a band trip in Orlando.

Investigators said this week that they had turned the Champion case over to local prosecutors, who will decide whether to file charges.

Other instances of brutal hazing rituals within the FAMU band have come to light since Champion's death and have led to several arrests.

Prosecutors did not pursue criminal charges in the case involving band members at the saxophone professor's home because detectives were unable to prove that the incident occurred within the two-year statute of limitations for bringing charges, according to police in Tallahassee.

The report said campus police learned of the incident in November 2011 but failed to notify city police, who had jurisdiction.

Tallahassee police heard about the incident through the news media in late January and began investigating, the police report said. It initially was reported by another faculty member who said a student told him about the party after Champion's death.

Holloway was asked by police whether he participated in hitting pledges. According the report, he said, "It's possible to say that I did do something under the circumstances of all of them coming in at once, maybe I did do something."

The student interviewed by police also said FAMU euphonium and tuba assistant professor Anthony Simons, 37, was at Holloway's home that night. Simons referred a reporter to his attorney for comment.

"Mr. Simons fully cooperated with the investigation. He denied the allegation from the very beginning...He didn't witness, participate or know that it (hazing) was going on," Simons' lawyer, Mutaqee Akbar, told Reuters.

Akbar said Simons had attended band fraternity parties but was not sure he was at the spaghetti party.

The police report said that interviews with other students at Holloway's party revealed that most of them admitted there was hitting and that "Holloway and/or Simons were present during the hazing."

(Editing By Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Johnston)