Hazing News

Adviser’s role considered

Here is the story link and an excerpt


Those who have viewed the 12 hours of video surveillance that show the slow and painful death of Tim Piazza that resulted from what happened the night of Feb. 2 and Feb. 3, 2017, say it is horrifying to watch.

As the heavily intoxicated 19-year-old sophomore Penn State engineering major stumbles, crawls, and falls down repeatedly, losing consciousness multiple times, it is the indifference of the more than two dozen of his Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers that is hard to understand.

But there is one small moment, just after 5 a.m. the morning after Mr. Piazza began drinking, when fate cost him at least one chance at surviving.

He had stumbled into a side room off of the house’s great room, where during the pledge ceremony the night before he had joined the fraternity. There, lying on the side room floor, he was, for a time, in sight of a surveillance camera and the doorway into the great room.


This Oct. 31, 2014, photo shows Timothy Piazza with his parents, Evelyn and James Piazza, during Hunterdon Central Regional High School football’s Senior Night in Flemington, N.J.   (Patrick Carns via AP)
Bill Schackner
A year after death at fraternity, the shock still reverberates

Then, inexplicably, he stumbles out of sight of the camera and away from the doorway – just 30 seconds before Tim Bream, the 56-year-old live-in adviser for the Betas, walked by on his way out of the house to work.

Mr. Bream was not only the live-in adviser, he was then and now one of the most prominent members of the Penn State athletic staff, head athletic trainer for all university sports and head football trainer for the Nittany Lions. A Penn State and Beta alum himself, Mr. Bream decided to “give back” to his alma mater by taking the job in 2012 in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal after being head trainer for the Chicago Bears for 15 years.

“It is not hyperbole to say that when Tim Bream was sleeping in his room while this incident unfolded, he represented one of the most capable people in the world to respond to the trauma of a young man since he deals with trauma daily,” his attorney later wrote in a motion that attempted to prevent Mr. Bream from testifying as a witness in the preliminary hearing to the criminal case of the fraternity brothers charged in Mr. Piazza’s death. Mr. Bream is not charged in the criminal case, though 28 fraternity members are.

Even though several fraternity members discussed it, no one went to Mr. Bream’s room on the second floor at the far end of house to wake him up to check on Mr. Piazza in the seven hours before Mr. Bream left for work that morning. And because Mr. Piazza had moved out of sight of the doorway, Mr. Bream never saw him in distress that morning as he left the house.

In testimony when he did appear at the preliminary hearing, Mr. Bream said while he knew the fraternity had applied for an alcohol permit for the pledge party, he never learned if it was granted and he knew nothing about what went on at the party after he went to his room after 9 p.m., where he stayed until leaving just after 5 a.m. the next morning.

But attorneys representing some of the fraternity brothers charged in the criminal case, as well as civil attorneys for the Piazza family and a Beta alum who paid to renovate the fraternity house, believe Mr. Bream cannot escape his share of responsibility for what happened that night – even though he has not been charged in the criminal case.

“Bream was the captain of the ship,” said Leonard Ambrose, attorney for one of the defendants, Joe Sala, 19. “When you have a captain on the ship and it runs into the dock when the captain was sleeping, the person in charge of the ship can’t just walk away from this by saying, ‘I was sleeping.’”

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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