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Penn State fraternity members charged in hazing death of sophomore Timothy Piazza

09 May 2017

During the pledging party, Piazza fell down the stairs after drinking excessively, but no one called for help for nearly 12 hours, according to police.

Piazza, a sophomore from New Jersey, died on February 4 after getting intoxicated and at least twice falling down the basement stairs of the frat house two days earlier, Miller's office said.

Surveillance footage from inside the house shows much of what was happening that night and the aftermath of Piazza's fall, according to the grand jury investigation.

The teen was one of 14 pledges forced to run a "gauntlet" of drinking stations, the grand jury said.

The charges were the result of a months-long grand jury investigation and served as an indictment of the Greek system at Penn State.

In one recovered message, a pledge member told fellow pledges: "If need be, just tell them what I told you guys, found him behind an away bar the next morning at around 10 a.m., and he was freezing cold, but we made a decision to call 911 instantly, because the kid's health was paramount". "Everybody was surrounding him, basically laughing, pointing", Davis recalled. Right away I started freaking out. They let him lie on a couch. He fell 15 feet down a flight of stairs, hair-first.

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But Davis' frat brothers dismissed him. Several times, Piazza tried to stand but fell, hitting his head.

"I never want to do this again, if people are willing to hide that behavior I don't see how we can stop it", Barron said. "He could have a concussion".

"Yeah, I think someone needed to take responsibility for that". I was told it was all a myth, I was overreacting and I was insane. There is a security camera video in the frat house that helped them come to that conclusion.

"All indicators suggested Beta Theta Phi was a model fraternity - the house, privately-owned and situated like all other fraternity houses on private property, was handsome, the subject of a multi-million dollar renovation; both the Beta alumni and the national organization provided strict rules of behavior; and, the brothers had a no alcohol policy which stated that anyone caught drinking would be expelled", Barron said.

In a group text message, one of the fraternity members there said, "Also, Tim Piazza might actually be a problem".

"This didn't have to happen", his father, Jim Piazza, said in a news conference Friday. It was a "result of a feeling of entitlement, flagrant disregard for the law".

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Beta Theta Pi International Fraternity described the "nature of those charges" as "incredibly disheartening as the organization and its membership continue to grieve Tim's passing and the pain experienced by his family".

Since Piazza's death, Pennsylvania Gov. Eric Barron and the university have imposed stern limits on alcohol at any fraternity or sorority event.

Ten other members were charged with hazing, aggravated and simple assault, alcohol-related violations, and tampering with evidence. The fraternity itself is facing charges including involuntary manslaughter and hazing.

The fraternity president was one of the eight charged with involuntary manslaughter. They did not comment about the charges, and were later released on bail. They are prohibited from having alcohol and non-prescription drugs, can not leave their home state without express permission from the judge and must surrender their passports, the district attorney said.

Some of the students are scheduled to surrender Friday to be arraigned.

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Penn State fraternity members charged in hazing death of sophomore Timothy Piazza