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Extremely light penalties in Utah State death case: Sadie Green

First USU student pleads guilty to hazing in alcohol death

By Brian Maffly

The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 03/24/2009 08:08:02 AM MDT

One of the 12 former fraternity and sorority members charged in the alleged hazing death of a Utah State University freshman entered a plea deal Monday that will leave her with a clean record after completing 12 months of probation.

Sadie Green, 19, is the first to plead guilty to hazing in the Nov. 21 death of Michael Starks, who drank a lethal dose of vodka while a pledge at the Sigma Nu fraternity. He was in the company of Green and several other teenage Chi Omega sorority women, who had “captured” and painted him as part of a nonsanctioned fraternity initiation.

Green entered a “plea in abeyance” requiring her to make public presentations about binge drinking and undergo alcohol counseling as part of her community service, said prosecutor Tony Baird.

Earlier this month hazing charges were dismissed against Cecily Kiss and Grant Barney. However, Barney, 22, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice and will be sentenced April 20. He lived in the Logan home at 181 W. 200 North where the sorority sisters painted Starks, 18, and another pledge and provided them with liquor.

“”When he learned of the police investigation, he threw away the vodka bottle. That’s how he got in trouble,” Baird said. “He wasn’t really involved in the hazing other than allowing the girls to use his house.”

Kiss was at the party, but did not paint or otherwise participate in the alleged hazing,

“She played with a cat the whole time,”
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Baird said.

Court dates are pending for the remaining nine students, three of whom are seeking to have the charges dismissed. All 12 of the students were charged with misdemeanors, while felony hazing charges were leveled against the Greek chapters. They have been shut down by their national organizations and face possible civil action from Starks’ Salt Lake City family.

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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