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More coverage on the Rider Affair

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Excerpt from the Trenton Times:

Julie DeVercelly had harsh words for DiDonato, who is the chapter’s house manager and is considered an employee of the university. His job at the Phi Kappa Tau house is similar to that of a resident assistant, according to the university’s housing code, and he is paid about $4,000 per year.

Law enforcement officials have confirmed that DiDonato was in the house during the fraternity party.

“The fact that a university employee was actually present when our son was being illegally hazed and more importantly was present when he needed timely medical assistance to save his life is outrageous,” she said. “Our family sent Gary to school to learn, not to be placed in harm’s way and left to die. We are devastated,” she said.

Attorney Douglas Fierberg, who said he has been retained by the DeVercelly family, echoed Julie DeVercelly’s comments, saying the student house manager should have done more.

“It appears to the family that a university employee — that is a house manager paid by the university — may have been present at the illegal hazing and when Gary collapsed and required emergency medical assistance and that the employee took no action to stop the illegal conduct or to obtain the emergency medical assistance that would have saved Gary’s life,” Fierberg said.

Paul Norris, a Lawrenceville lawyer representing DiDonato, said he couldn’t understand why his client was facing criminal charges over a part-time university job with “ridiculous” pay. DiDonato, Norris said, was in the fraternity house but wasn’t present at the late party.

“He thought he was taking on a job as an informal mediator. But he didn’t expect to be in this role that he’s somehow responsible as a police officer,” Norris said.

Olsen’s lawyer, Tim Donohue of West Orange, said his client, who was still grieving DeVercelly’s death, was so shocked to hear about the indictment that he couldn’t speak.

“He was so choked up,” said Donohue.

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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