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New Anti-Hazing Law Introduced After Death of Penn State Fraternity Member

The Pennsylvania state legislature recently passed an anti-hazing law that was proposed after the death of a Penn State student who had been drinking at a fraternity house in early 2017. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law shortly after the legislature passed it.

The bill allows prosecutors to seek stricter criminal penalties and enables courts to confiscate fraternity houses if they are found to have committed acts of hazing.

Background of the law

The law stems from the death of Tim Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore engineering student who died from severe abdominal and head injuries after falling several times inside Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi house. His parents have since become advocates for national anti-hazing initiatives and were present for the signing of the bill in Harrisburg.

Piazza had consumed a “dangerous amount” of alcohol before he reportedly fell down a set of basement steps. He was at the fraternity house for a pledge bid ceremony. Security camera footage showed other fraternity members barely paying attention to his injuries. He was forced to spend the night in pain on a couch on the first floor after falling several more times.

After he was found unconscious the next morning, it took fraternity members 40 minutes to call for medical help. About two dozen members of the fraternity face charges in conjunction with the event. Some have already entered guilty pleas.

The new law requires schools to have policies in place to fight against hazing and reclassifies hazing incidents that result in death or severe injuries as felonies. Any high schools, colleges or universities aware of hazing incidents must report them to law enforcement.

If you have questions about this law or need sound legal guidance, consult experienced criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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