18 fraternity brothers charged in death of pledge at Penn State University

The members belonging to Beta Theta Pi were set to be arraigned Friday afternoon following an investigation into the death of Timothy Piazza.

Eighteen fraternity members are now facing charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to aggravated assault.

The cameras recorded Piazza drinking vodka and beer at around 9:20 p.m. and an hour later needing help to walk, staggering and hunched over, from an area near the basement stairs to a couch. The other charges range from evidence tampering to furnishing alcohol to minors.

The grand jury report also criticized the entire Penn State Greek community as a whole, saying it "nurtured an environment so permissive of excessive drinking and hazing that it emboldened its members to repeatedly act with reckless disregard to human life".

"The former undergraduate members were well educated by the International Fraternity and Penn State on these policies; however, they are entitled to the presumption of innocence as they face these charged", the statement read.

A brother calls 911 around 10:48 a.m., but doesn't mention the fall to a dispatcher, prosecutors say.

The grand jury found evidence that Beta Theta Pi engaged in hazing, not just for Piazza's spring 2017 pledge class, but also previous pledge classes in spring and fall of 2016.

For this reason, we have announced the imposition of a number of aggressive measures and made clear recognition by the university [what] is at stake for those Greek-letter organizations that do not abide by the rules.

One time, when Piazza rolled off a couch, three fraternity brothers picked him up and "slammed him" back on the couch, according to the grand jury report. "We have also seen a rise in the intensity of excessive drinking and hazing at Penn State and elsewhere, despite more than a decade of focus and the introduction of educational and other programs, as well as policies that clearly spell out consequences".

Investigators say over 40 minutes elapsed before the fraternity called for help after they discovered Piazza was looking deathly ill the morning after the party.

In a statement Friday, the university's Inter-fraternity Council pledged it was committed to reforms that would prevent similar deaths in the future. Penn State President Eric Barron called the incident "sickening and hard to understand".

The district attorney said today that Piazza had two serious falls during the night and by the time he went to the hospital on February 3 it was essentially too late, according to The Patriot-News.

In addition to the 18 students being charged, Beta Theta Pi corporation was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The fraternity pledge manual said no alcohol could be consumed at the frat house, especially by pledges or minors, and that hazing was prohibited, according to the grand jury report.

From Jan. 25 to February 2, one Beta brother bought almost $1,180 worth of alcohol, including Four Loko and Crown Russe vodka, prosecutors said.

"You know every little thing can be called hazing nowadays and it sort of just depends on just context and everyone's sort of perspective on it", Colin Shakespeare said.

Barron spoke about the devastation Piazza's family has experienced and the significant problems of overconsumption of alcohol and hazing at Penn State fraternities and across the nation.

While the charges were being announced for this horrendous incident, Piazza's parents stood by.

Miller said, "He was injured and injuries were visible on his stomach".

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