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Lenoir-Rhyne death draws lawsuit charging hazing

HICKORY, N.C. — The parents of a 19-year-old university student who died last year in North Carolina say he was repeatedly tackled by members of a fraternity who were hazing him at an off-campus farm.

The lawsuit filed Friday blames Theta Chi Fraternity, the fraternity’s members and Lenoir-Rhyne University. It says 19-year-old Harrison Kowiak of Tampa, Fla., died after a head injury caused a severe brain hemorrhage.

The parents say in the lawsuit that Kowiak and another pledge were told to walk across a field one night in November while wearing light clothing. The lawsuit states that fraternity members wearing dark clothing repeatedly tackled the pledges during the initiation, leading to the injury.

Prosecutors have said investigators found no basis for criminal charges in the death.

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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