Hazing News

Hall of Shame: Ohio University death

Saxon Angell-Perez and James Dylan Wanke

Here is the link

And an excerpt:

Source: Lucas Sullivan, Mike Wagner and Sheridan Hendrix

Columbus Dispatch

The indictments came after The Columbus Dispatch published a six-part investigation called “Broken Pledge.” The project detailed the hazing and death of Wiant, a pledge for the Epsilon Chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity at the university.

Moderator: Sadly, Sigma Pi had a great reputation before this tragedy.  Here are the members volunteering at a food pantry.

Those indicted Monday and the charges against them:

  • Former OU student Joshua T. Androsac, 20, of Lewis Center: involuntary manslaughter, permitting drug abuse, hazing and two counts of trafficking in harmful intoxicants.
  • Former OU student Corbin M. Gustafson, 22, of Furlong, Pennsylvania: reckless homicide.

    Corbin M. Gustafson, 22, of Furlong, Pennsylvania:

Gustafson and Androsac were with Wiant when he died.

Gustafson first called then-Sigma Pi president Elijah Wahib after Wiant collapsed, then waited several minutes before calling 911, according to phone records obtained by The Dispatch from a source close to the investigation.

  • OU student Saxon Angell-Perez, 22, of Columbus: permitting drug abuse, trafficking in cocaine and hazing.
  • Former OU student James Dylan Wanke, 25, of Athens: two counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of trafficking in harmful intoxicants and distributing nitrous oxide. Wanke worked at the Silver Serpent store in Athens that sold the whippits that Wiant inhaled.
  • Former OU student Dominic A. Figliola, 21, of Athens: drug trafficking, permitting drug abuse and hazing.
  • Former OU student Zachary Herskovitz, 22, of Robinson Township, Pennsylvania: permitting drug abuse and hazing
  • OU student Cullen W. McLaughlin, 20, of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania: two counts of felony drug trafficking
  • Former OU student Elijah R. Wahib, 22, of Westlake: tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, permitting drug abuse, hazing, misdemeanor assault and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws.
  • Stephan B. Lewis, 27, of Athens: trafficking in harmful intoxicants and improperly dispensing or distributing nitrous oxide.

Blackburn said the indictments are meant to hold those accountable for their roles in Wiant’s death but also to send a message that there’s no tolerance for hazing.

“The Wiant family has forever lost a son,” Blackburn said. “And while there is nothing that can be done to change that, there is some solace in maybe that this won’t be done to another family.”

Sigma Pi pledges were beaten with belts, punched and forced to play tackle football resulting in a significant head injury for one pledge, according to documents and interviews related to the university’s investigation into hazing.

Pledges also reported that they were forced to consume alcohol and clean off-campus bars where Sigma Pi members worked. Wiant told his brother and former girlfriend that they made him use cocaine.

Ohio University expelled Sigma Pi in April after its own investigation found members violated 10 standards in the student code of conduct.

“The tragic death of Collin Wiant was devastating for our community, and it is encouraging to see progress being made in the criminal case,” said Carly Leatherwood, a university spokeswoman. “Our thoughts remain with the Wiant family following the heartbreaking loss of their son last November.”

Gov. Mike DeWine said this month that local law enforcement and prosecutors need stiffer penalties to serve as a real deterrent for those who continue to use hazing practices in fraternities and sororities, marching bands, athletic teams and other organizations. Hazing is currently a misdemeanor.

The governor said any anti-hazing legislation should not only increase the penalty but also expand the actual legal language of the hazing statute to give prosecutors more leeway to charge someone with a hazing crime.


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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