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Rider defendants apply for pretrial intervention, hoping to clear records

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Rider hazing defendants apply for PTI program
Posted by The Times of Trenton September 10, 2007 10:59AM
Categories: Courts

Two of three Rider University student defendants who are charged with aggravated hazing in the drinking death of a fraternity pledge appeared in court Monday and are applying to enter the Pretrial Intervention Program.

Freshman Gary DeVercelly Jr., 18, died in March after drinking heavily during an initiation ritual.

Lawyers for Dominic Olsen, 21, the pledge master of now defunct Phi Kappa Tau fraternity, and Adriano DiDonato, 22, told Superior Court Judge Mitchell Ostrer that their clients are applying for PTI, which, if sucessfully completed will allow the criminal charge against them to be expunged. The terms of their admission to the program, which is routinely offered to first-time, non-violent offenders, will be set at their next status conference on Oct. 1.

“I’m just trying to finish school and graduate,” said Olsen, who is a senior at Rider.

In addition to the three students, a Mercer County grand jury had indicted two university administrators, Ada Badgley, director of Greek Life, and Anthony Campbell, the dean of students, sending shockwaves through colleges and universities nationwide. However, the Mercer County Prosecutor dismissed the charges against the administrators last month.

A third student who also was charged in the hazing, Michael Torney, 21, is expected to appear in court next week.

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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