For as long as there have been fraternities, there have been “initiations” for the new members to prove they deserve to be part of the group. However, somewhere along the way, these playful pranks and tasks turned into harmful hazings.
In 2013, a New York College student name Chun “Michael” Deng died from a brain injury at the young age of 19. He was a freshman at Baruch College, and had just joined a fraternity called Pi Delta Psi. The group rented a house in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania that December, where the hazing took place. After the damage had been done, members of the fraternity went through desperate measures in order to cover it up.
On Monday, four men pleaded guilty “voluntary manslaughter” of the 2013 hazing.
Fox News reports that Kenny Kwan, Charles Lai, Raymond Lam, and Sheldon Wong have all been charged with third degree murder. However, after they pleaded guilty to felony manslaughter, their charges were reduced. They are currently facing at least 22 to 36 months in prison. Their sentencing is set to take place in December.
Deng joined about 30 people on a trip to Tunkhannock Township, Pa., one week in December to take part in a pledging ritual for Pi Delta Psi, investigators said.
Fraternity members blindfolded Deng, forced him to wear a heavy backpack and then repeatedly tackled him during the hazing ritual, known as glass ceiling, police said.
Deng cursed and hit Lam at some point during the ritual, Monroe County Assistant District Kim Metzger told the judge. She said Kwan was the last brother to tackle Deng.
“Mr. Deng did not stand up after that moment,” Metzger said.
The fraternity members brought Deng inside the house where they changed his clothes and searched information online about his symptoms, prosecutors said.
The group called a national fraternity official, who told them to conceal any materials that had the fraternity symbol on it, The New York Times reported.
The fraternity brothers waited an hour before taking Deng to the hospital, according to court documents. Deng died a day later on Dec. 6 from major brain trauma.
Wong did not take part in the hazing but helped arrange it as a “pledge educator,” Metzger said.
The pleas come a week after prosecutors announced criminal charges against Beta Theta Pi and 18 Penn students after the death of Timothy Piazza, 19. Piazza died on Feb. 4 after he fell down a flight of stairs while intoxicated during a Beta Theta Pi pledge party. The fraternity members didn’t call an ambulance for 12 hours.
Another suspect also pleaded guilty but for the hinderance of apprehension, and was only sentenced to probation.
Pi Delta Psi fraternity has been permanently banned at Baruch College.
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