Hazing News

New judge, old charges: Beta Theta Pi chapter officers back in court

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Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller refiled charges including aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter against former members of Beta Theta Pi fraternity in connection with the February death of Penn State student and pledge Timothy Piazza.

After a seven-day preliminary hearing that stretched throughout the summer, District Judge Allen Sinclair dismissed charges of aggravated assault, simple assault and involuntary manslaughter against eight men and a charge of involuntary manslaughter against the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of Beta Theta Pi. He also dismissed various misdemeanor charges against a number of defendants.

Parks Miller vowed at the time to refile some of those charges, and on Friday she did.

As of 1:10 p.m., the magisterial district court docket showed charges were refiled against former fraternity president Brendan Young and members Michael Bonatucci, Luke Visser and Gary DiBileo. Charges are expected to be refiled against other defendants as well and Parks Miller said more information would be made available later in the day.

For Young, the refiled charges include a felony count of aggravated assault, misdemeanor counts of involuntary manslaughter and simple assault, 36 counts of recklessly endangering another person, 36 counts of hazing and 36 counts of furnishing alcohol to minors.

Some of the hazing, reckless endangerment and furnishing charges against Young stem from pledge events in the spring and fall of 2016.

The docket for Bonatucci shows a felony charge of aggravated assault, misdemeanor counts of involuntary manslaughter and simple assault, and 16 counts of furnishing and liquor law violations.

Felony charges of aggravated assault and misdemeanor charges of involuntary manslaughter and simple assault also were refiled against DiBileo and Visser.

All four had multiple misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment, hazing and furnishing bound over following the preliminary hearing

Parks Miller also is expected to request a different district judge to oversee the new preliminary hearing for the refiled charges.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; 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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