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Breaking News from Rider: Channel 3–Gary Devercelly death

5 Charged In Rider Univ. Hazing Death

Two high-ranking Rider University administrators have been indicted in the March 2007 hazing death of a freshman student.

Mercer County prosecutor Joseph Bocchini announced aggravated hazing charges against Dean of Students Anthony Campbell and Director of Greek Life Ada Badgley for 18-year-old Gary DeVercelly’s death this spring.

Also indicted were student leaders of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity that DeVercelly was pledging to join — Adriano DiDonato, 22, Dominic Olsen, 21, and Michael Tourney, 21.

DeVercelly of Long Beach, Calif. died of alcohol poisoning after a fraternity hazing event.

A police investigation revealed that DeVercelly participated in a “Family Drink” tradition as part of the fraternity’s pledge process, during which all of the pledges consumed several shots of hard alcohol — and in some instances entire bottles — in less than one hour.

Through the investigation, it was also learned that 27 of the 28 students that participated in the “Family Drink” tradition were under the legal drinking age of 21.

DeVercelly was transported to Capital Health System’s Fuld Campus in Trenton after the game and was later pronounced dead.

According to an autopsy, the medical examiner found DeVercelly’s blood alcohol level to be .426. The legal limit in New Jersey is .08.

A second student, 19-year-old William Williams, was taken to the hospital with DeVercelly at the time but was treated in the emergency room for alcohol poisoning and released.

Rider University is not a dry campus and students 21 years of age and older can drink in their dorm if no one under the age of 21 is present.

Aggravated hazing is a fourth-degree charge and carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000 if the accused are convicted.

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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