Criminal Charges for Hazing Have Been Filed Related to Death of Student from Alcohol Poisoning
Last year, one of the most notorious cases of fraternity hazing led to alcohol poisoning and death for an unfortunate initiate. Now, more suspects face criminal charges for the wrongful death.
As of November 1st, two more University of Albany students have been arrested and charged for their parts in the hazing death. Last year, on November 16th, victim Trevor Duffy was part of his fraternity’s unsanctioned, hastily-organized frat party in which he was pressured by his frat brothers, as part of his initiation, to consume half a gallon of vodka in a very short amount of time.
Later in the night, Duffy was found unconscious at the party by police and rushed to a nearby hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival. His blood alcohol content was seven times the legal limit.
The two new suspects are among seven so far who face misdemeanor charges for alcohol poisoning death. Police stated that the party was an “unsanctioned initial ritual” on the part of the fraternity, which structures regular, less severe initiation rituals for new recruits.
A separate investigation through U Albany charged 19 members of the frat for the hazing ritual, including drug, alcohol, and student group violations. Other charges include abusive behavior, disruptive conduct, and hazing charges.
The police investigation took some time because officers had to determine that Duffy’s death was part of an initiation ritual gone wrong, where the victim was intentionally put in danger. Reportedly, however, the fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, lost official recognition on U Albany’s campus, and an “underground” chapter continues to operate without school sanction. It was that chapter, according to the school’s investigation and police reports, that put Duffy in physical danger. A few pledges said in police interviews that they were confused by the two different ZBT chapters – the group had received a new charter for a new chapter in 2011.
Another tragedy in the story involves delays in reporting and treating Duffy after he passed out. Although a friend testified that he appeared to be in “fine shape” when she saw him passed out on the couch earlier in the party, she found him again in the shower around 1 AM – the color had drained from his face and his lips appeared bluish-purple, she told officers. Her phone was dead so she ran around the frat house, screaming for someone to call 9-1-1. Instead of calling emergency services, however, several frat members ran into the bathroom and two of them began to argue about whether or not they should call an ambulance.
A second witness, who is a trained lifeguard, reported that she tried to perform CPR on Duffy but was dragged outside, away from the scene.
Although Duffy was the only death that evening, there were four other students who suffered because of the unsanctioned hazing ritual. One had high levels of Ketamine in his bloodstream, although no one reported seeing anyone intentionally taking drugs, leading the school’s investigators to conclude that their drinks were spiked.
Duffy’s family also reportedly intended to file a civil lawsuit against the University because of the hazing ritual, seeking $55 million in damages.
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