Hazing News

Update on Cornell death

This is the June 27 story on the Cornell acquittals. I had not seen this while on vacation and am passing it along in case anyone here missed it.



The three defendants — Max Haskin, Ben Mann and Edward Williams — were accused of making George Desdunes drink excessive amounts of alcohol during an induction ritual for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, of which they were all members. They were charged with hazing in the first degree and unlawfully dealing with a child (referring to serving alcohol to a person under 21), both misdemeanors. But on Tuesday, Judge Judith A. Rossiter of Tompkins County Court acquitted them of all charges.

Raymond M. Schlather, one of the defense lawyers, said Wednesday that the court had “determined without any hesitation or equivocation that these guys are innocent.” He added, “Having said that, I emphasize that there are no winners, because someone is dead and the family is in pain, and frankly, the lives of three young men are irrevocably harmed.”

Mr. Desdunes’s mother, Marie Lourdes Andre, was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

“She’s absolutely devastated,” her lawyer, Douglas Fierberg, said. “She’s in shock and terribly saddened that her son could be killed by these individuals and there be no criminal responsibility.”

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

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 current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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