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Smoke or Fire? College Firefighter hazing allegations dragon in California.

Excerpt and link from Union Democrat:

College hazing case lingers in limbo

Published: June 21, 2007

By ALISHA WYMAN

The Union Democrat

Five months after a party where several Columbia College Fire Department firefighters allegedly hazed another firefighter, the Tuolumne County District Attorney hasn’t given word on whether he will file charges.

The office is still working with county sheriff’s investigators in wrapping up their work, District Attorney Donald Segerstrom said.

“There are a whole bunch of factors that go into a decision on whether or not you should charge someone with a crime,” Segerstrom said.

A 19-year-old Stockton student told deputies in January that other firefighters forced him to drink large quantities of beer, then kicked and punched him during a Jan. 15 off-campus party.

He also alleged he and other firefighters on probationary status — or those relatively new to the department — have been previously harassed.

Hazing is a crime, as noted in the California Penal Code. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the extent of physical injuries to a victim.

Meanwhile, as time passes, interest in the college’s Fire Department program has waned and concerns about firefighter response are growing, area fire officials said.

“It is a disappointment that this process has taken as long as it has,” college spokesman Doug Lau said. “I think everyone’s waiting for a final decision, and we have no indication what it is now.”

Investigations ongoing

The Sheriff’s Office has completed its investigation but it is still working with the District Attorney’s Office, said sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Dan Bressler.

It’s not unusual to h

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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