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Band case update

Guilty pleas planned in hazing

* By JORDAN BLUM

The seven former Southern University marching band members arrested for hazing last year have accepted a plea bargain to avoid prison time, the East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney said Tuesday.

The seven suspects will plead guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit second-degree battery, which is a felony, and misdemeanor hazing, District Attorney Hillar Moore III said.

“This is a first-offense for all of these individuals,” Moore said. “But, most importantly, this is what the victims requested.”

The seven likely will get three years probation, with the possibility of the probation ending after one year, Moore said.

The district attorney said he is pleased with the outcome because the former band members are pleading guilty to a felony.

That will “resonate” at Southern and other campuses, he said.

The hazing incident was part of a Nov. 25 initiation into the marching band’s unofficial French horn fraternity — “Mellow Phi Fellow” — prior to the Bayou Classic football game, according to arrest records.

Two victims were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, but were eventually released.

A third victim, who was not hospitalized, withdrew from the initiation after being struck more than 50 times by a 2-by-4 inch board, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office records state.

“As part of the initiation ritual, the three subjects were blindfolded and told to remove their shirts,” according to the arrest reports. “They then had water splashed on them as senior members struck them numerous time with open hands.

“The three victims were then told to bend over at the waist, and the senior members began striking them numerous times with a large wooden board,” the arrest reports state.

Moore said final paperwork could be filed today with the state district court in Baton Rouge.

The perpetrators could have initially faced 25 years in prison and more than $25,000 in fines.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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