POCONO SUMMIT, Pa. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Criminal charges have been filed against dozens of Baruch College fraternity members in the death of a student during a hazing ritual in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Five members of Pi Delta Psi and the fraternity itself were charged with third-degree murder in the December 2013 death of 19-year-old Chun “Michael” Deng.
Thirty-two others face charges ranging from aggravated assault to hazing.
Police say Deng was blind-folded, weighted down with a 30-pound backpack and forced to run a gauntlet during what they say was a brutal fraternity ritual called “glass ceiling.” Deng was knocked unconscious, but police say the fraternity members waited an hour before taking him to the hospital with a severe brain injury.
“Today, the parents of Michael Deng applaud the actions by the police, grand jury and Monroe County District Attorneys to bring criminal charges against the Pi Delta Psi Fraternity and its members for the tragic, entirely preventable hazing death of Michael,” Deng’s family said in a statement. “Too many families have been devastated as a result of fraternity hazing, with at least one student dying every year from hazing since 1970. Fraternities and their members must be held accountable, and this step by authorities is an important one.
“Michael was a wonderful, beloved young man, and, in his honor, the family will also continue pursuing its wrongful death case against the fraternity to cause it and other fraternities to change so that other parents will be spared the loss of a precious child.”
On the Baruch campus, some said they think the changes are overblown.
“I personally don’t think I agree with that,” one man told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith. “I really don’t think it’s homicide personally. I think that’s too aggressive.”
Others told CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco that they felt the charges were justified.
“I do think that it’s just one of those things that you have to make an example out of that because somebody lost their child, so that’s not fair. Somebody is going to want justice for that,” Eric Eilely said.
Police said Deng was blind-folded, weighted down with a 30-lbs backpack and forced to run a gauntlet during a brutal ritual. Deng was knocked unconscious and police said fraternity members waited an hour before taking him to the hospital with a severe brain injury. During that time members changed Deng’s clothes and searched the internet to diagnose his symptoms and called their national fraternity president who instructed them to hide all fraternity items.
“I think it was very unfortunate, and I think for all the parties that got involved it went overboard,” Eilely said.
The fraternity chapter was thrown off campus permanently following Deng’s death.
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