Pennsylvania grand jury to report on fraternity hazing death

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2017 6:04 AM

By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - A long-awaited grand jury report about fraternity hazing at Pennsylvania State University was set to be unveiled on Friday, 10 months after the death of Timothy Piazza, 19, during an alcohol-fueled initiation ritual.

The grand jury at Centre County Court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania investigated safety issues at Penn State after the Feb. 4 death of Piazza, a college sophomore from Lebanon, New Jersey.

Piazza was served at least 18 drinks within 82 minutes at a pledge party at Beta Theta Pi house, said Stacy Parks Miller, Centre County's district attorney.

The report is the result of a 10-month investigation into hazing and alcohol use within Penn State's fraternity system.

Piazza seriously injured himself after becoming intoxicated at the party, tumbling twice down flights of stairs. He died two days later.

Twenty-six fraternity members are accused in Piazza's death. Charges include involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, hazing and furnishing alcoholic beverages to a minor under the age of 21.

Surveillance-camera video of the alcohol-fueled initiation rite that turned deadly showed games involving the rapid consumption of wine, beer and vodka in the fraternity house's basement during a party for newly accepted members.

The video footage, recovered by the FBI, had been deleted after the fraternity learned police were planning to seize the video from the frat house in the town of State College.

Braxton Becker, one of the fraternity members, is accused of deleting the video footage while State College police were in the room to seize the recording equipment. He faces separate charges of evidence tampering and obstruction of justice.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bernadette Baum)