NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — She says her son was hazed to death.
A Brooklyn mother filed a $25 million lawsuit, claiming her son was forced to drink until he was five times the legal limit.
She says he was left to die, by his own fraternity brothers, reports CBS 2’s Don Dahler.
On a cold day in February of this year, George Desdunes called his Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers at Cornell University for a ride back to the house.
Instead, a group of pledges allegedly kidnapped the 19-year-old, tied him up, and as part of a hazing ritual reportedly unique to SAE, quizzed him about the fraternity. Every time he didn’t give them the correct answer, he was allegedly forced to drink. He died of acute alcohol poisoning.
“It’s taken me a long, long time to be able to deal with the fact that he’s not coming back,” said Dr. Robert Fischer, Desdunes’ godfather.
“Marie Andre, his mother, who is a close friend of mine, comes to this country as an orphan from Haiti, makes a life for herself, raises a son on her own because her husband dies while she was pregnant with George. She raises this brilliant, wonderful human being, sends him off to college and then one day does get that phone call.”
Desdunes’ mother is suing the fraternity millions of dollars.
“The purpose is to make substantial changes in fraternities in the way they operate. For approximately 40 years, every year one student has died as a result of hazing or the misuse of alcohol,” attorney Doug Fieberg said.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national office issued the following statement:
“The organization actively promotes its anti-hazing initiative program called ‘We Stand Together,’ which educates both members and non-members on ways to recognize and prevent hazing.”
But Desdunes’ family said young people in college need more than a program; they need adult supervision.
“Unfortunately what happens is the national fraternity turns that responsibility over to the local chapters. Those chapters are run by students. In most cases those students are minors. So, basically, they’re allowing the inmates of the asylum to police the asylum,” Dr. Fischer said.
No felony charges were filed.
Desdunes planned on becoming a neurosurgeon.
He’s not the first Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother to die in an alleged hazing incident. A Cal Poly student died of alcohol poisoning a few years ago during a fraternity pledge event.
Is this just fraternity antics gone bad, or should fraternities be done away with entirely? Sound off in our comments section below…