8 arrested in Brotherhood Pledge's alcohol poisoning death, police say

Eight people were arrested and three others charged on Friday after an investigation into the death of Virginia Commonwealth University ...


Eight people were arrested and three others charged on Friday after an investigation into the death of Virginia Commonwealth University student Adam Oakes passed away in february of alcohol poisoning at a fraternity party, authorities said.

The eight people arrested face charges of unlawfully hazing a student, Richmond, Va., Police said in a statement. Three of them face an additional charge for buying and giving alcohol to a minor.

According to Mr. Oakes’ family, the death of the young man, which has attracted national attention and renewed questions about hazing in Greek organizations across the country, occurred at an off-campus party on February 26 in Delta Chi fraternity house, where he was given a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and told to drink it.

Mr Oakes, 19, was found dead the next morning by Richmond police officers, authorities said.

Courtney White, Mr Oakes’ cousin, said on Saturday that although the family felt “a little relieved” because the case was moving forward, it was still painful to know that nothing, including the accusations, was going ” bring it back. “

“A lot of people say these boys are just boys,” Ms. White said. “But the point is, Adam was just a boy too, and they took full advantage of him. What if one of them had come forward and actually acted like a man and called out help, Adam would still be there.

Family said on facebook that they were “grateful for some measure of justice these charges and arrests can produce, as well as the protection from hazing they can offer impressionable young students.”

“The past 7 months have been stressful for our family,” they wrote. “This is the first time that these young men have been held accountable for their historically toxic and destructive traditions, for the manipulation of the VCU disciplinary systems, and for the death of Adam.”

The Richmond Police Department did not say whether the people charged were students at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the university did not immediately respond to questions on Saturday. But Mr Oakes’ family said all those arrested were current or former students of the university.

Police named those arrested as Benjamin J. Corado, Quinn A. Kuby, Riley K. McDaniel, Alessandro Medina-Villanueva, Jason B. Mulgrew, Christian G. Rohrbach, Colin G. Tran and Enayat W. Sheikhzad. They are between 19 and 22 years old.

It was not clear on Saturday whether the eight had lawyers. None could be immediately reached for comment on Saturday.

A website for Delta Chi, Mr. Corado, Mr. Kuby, Mr. Medina-Villanueva, Mr. Mulgrew, Mr. Rohrbach and Mr. Tran were part of the VCU Chapter leadership team.

The university said in a statement that “VCU continues to mourn the tragic death of Adam Oakes and thanks the Richmond Police Department for their investigation.”

“VCU is dedicated to continuing its efforts, announced this summer, to promote a culture of safe and welcoming brotherhood and sisterhood life for all,” the university said.

VCU permanently expelled from Delta Chi off campus in May, after hiring a consulting firm to study her Greek culture. The Dyad Strategies firm, announced in an August report that while the university was not an outlier compared to Greek organizations at other colleges, it still struggled to address concerns about binge drinking and hazing.

Seven of those arrested have been taken into custody by Virginia Commonwealth University police and are being held without bail at the Richmond Justice Center. Mr. Sheikhzad was arrested by Virginia State Police and released on bail. The other three are expected to surrender soon, but their names were withheld, Richmond police said in their statement.

Fellowship organizations have come under scrutiny in recent years, following high-profile cases that have angered anti-hazing activists and relatives of victims who say the culture of Greek life is dangerous and shrouded in secrecy. In 2017, Timothy Piazza, student at Penn State University, died after getting drunk, fell and was abandoned overnight by fellowship members who knew he needed help but did not ask for it.

Chun Hsien Deng, an 18-year-old Baruch College freshman, died in 2013 after suffering a major head trauma while participating in a fraternity hazing ritual.

“Bullying keeps you out of a group; hazing is having to prove that you are part of that group, ”said Dennis Goodwin, co-founder of Anti-hazing collaborative, an organization dedicated to the prevention of hazing among young people.

While many fellowship members call themselves “brothers,” Mr. Goodwin said he didn’t think students should be part of “families” that force them to “do something that could lead to death. “.

Some anti-hazing activists have said they hope prosecutions in cases like Mr Oakes’s prove that these crimes are now taken seriously.

Rae Ann Gruver, founder and president of the Max Gruver Foundation, has spent years trying to end hazing on college campuses. Her son, Max, died in 2017 “as a result of fraternity hazing”, organization said online.

“The more these children are prosecuted and charged and actually see penalties, and prosecutors are prepared to prosecute them, it will really deter these children,” Ms. Gruver said.

Many states’ hazing laws are categorized as misdemeanors, she said, which means less time in jail if convicted. If these laws turn into crimes, no young adult “is going to want this on their record,” Gruver said.

In Virginia, where Mr. Oakes’ case unfolds, hazing is a misdemeanor.

“I think fraternity headquarters are getting more involved and really have a policy of no tolerance and lingering on it, but it takes time,” Ms. Gruver said.

If anyone gets carried away, she said, “it’s against the law, and you should be prosecuted like any other crime.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: 8 arrested in Brotherhood Pledge's alcohol poisoning death, police say
8 arrested in Brotherhood Pledge's alcohol poisoning death, police say
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