Penn State Hazing Death: Former Frat Member Pleads Guilty


  • Beta Theta Pi’s twenty-five members face charges related to the death of sophomore pledge Tim Piazza, a 19-year-old engineering student from New Jersey, in February 2017.
  • Piazza died due to fatal injuries caused by a series of falls during a night of drinking and hazing after a pledge bid acceptance ceremony.
  • Fraternity brothers failed to seek immediate medical attention for his condition, calling an ambulance only after Piazza has been found unconscious the next morning.

Another preliminary hearing for the criminal case against 25 members of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity of Penn State draws near. These young men were charged in relation to Tim Piazza’s death.

Piazza, 19, suffered fatal injuries—a fractured skull and shattered spleen—after falling down a flight of stairs during a hazing ritual. The students waited 12 hours before calling 911.

A request from the attorney general’s office to put back charges against eight defendants has been granted by Pamela Ruest, Centre County’s president judge, last week. A five-day preliminary hearing, scheduled by Ruest, will start on July 23 to see if there is sufficient evidence to send the charges to county court for trial. Ruest also replaced the magisterial district judge who has thrown out charges twice.

In May, charges were dismissed against Braxton Becker, who had been accused of tampering with evidence which involves deleting a security video of the fraternity basement. Charges have now been refiled against Becker.

Also, charges refiled against Joshua Kurczewski will be addressed, for providing alcohol to a minor and reckless endangerment. All charges will be addressed in the July 23 hearing.

On June 13, a guilty plea has been entered by Ryan Burke, 21, a former Beta Theta Pi brother. Burke pleaded guilty to all nine charges which include four counts of hazing and five alcohol-related offenses. Lawyers have yet to submit documents related to his sentencing.

There is currently a pending legislative effort to provide stricter guidelines for criminal penalties for hazing which the state Senate voted unanimously for in April. This includes confiscation of fraternity houses where hazing has taken place. Additionally, there would be new reporting requirements for schools for violations of the anti-hazing law.

Source: ABC News

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