Hazing News

Kappa Alpha Psi verdict in BB shooting, beatings in Bakersfield: guilty but (as expected) leniency

Kern County (California) Superior Court Judge Lorna H. Brumfield could have thrown the book at Cal-Bakersfield defendants if local district attorney had recommended felony charges. Instead, following severe beatings of Kappa Alpha Psi pledges along with bizarre BB shootings of pledges, the members were given mainly probation and time served, according to the Bakersfield California. One pledge had suffered a severe back injury that required surgery.

Moderator: Justice may be blind, but in this case she was misguided as well. Since there was severe bodily injury and multiple brutal attacks, the charges should have been felonies. With all due respect to both the District Attorney’s office and Kern County (California) Superior Court Judge Lorna H. Brumfield, I’d like to assign a grade of F- to them for their combined  judgment and decisions. An attorney for the accused pledgemaster told the Court his client was pleased with the verdict. I’ll just bet he was. Given that a Bakersfield youth died this weekend from hazing, I’d say Philemon Lamont Norris and two other defendants ought to be more than pleased. Scholars: put this verdict at the top of your list when writing about “under-punished” verdicts assigned by the courts. This slap on the wrist for beatings of Kappa Alpha Psi pledges with a deadly weapon sure beats all for leniency. Why even have Matt’s Law (which its sponsors fought so hard for) if it isn’t going to be a factor?  Compare this to two year sentences in North Carolina and Florida for VERY similar beatings during hazing, and you wonder just what it is going to take to have a judge and District Attorney assign similar felony jail time. I’m not ranting here. Not at all. Just hoping the perps get to send a lesson to future hazers and pledge beaters. This sends a lesson all right. We’ll get off easy.  –Moderator Hank Nuwer

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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