Manslaughter Charges Provide Grim Reminder of the Danger of Hazing on Georgia College Campuses
While Hollywood movies often treat hazing as harmless pranks that do not result in serious harm, hazing rituals can result in exposure to both criminal penalties and liability for damages in a civil lawsuit.
When forced alcohol consumption, physical deprivation or abuse and other forms of hazing cause serious injury or wrongful death, the lives of hazing victims can be permanently impacted. Those who engage in this type of harsh abuse and mistreatment under the guise of bonding may also destroy their future.
The AP has reported that a hazing incident at Florida A&M has resulted in 12 former band members at the university being charged with manslaughter. The charges stem from the tragic death of the band’s drum major in 2011. The hazing victim died after a brutal beating that was part of a hazing ritual. According to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the drum major collapsed from internal bleeding evidenced by bruises on his back, shoulders, arms and chest. While ten of the band members had originally been charged with felony hazing, the prosecutor has added criminal manslaughter charges.
Georgia law defines hazing as any activity that poses a risk of causing harm to the physical health of a student. The number of young people exposed to hazing practices is far more extensive than many would suspect. According to HazingPrevention.Org, 1.5 million high school students per year are victimized in hazing incidents. Almost half of all college students have already been a victim of hazing before enrolling in college. Further, 55 percent of students in universities across the country experience a hazing incident when involved in sports, fraternal organization, clubs and other college organizations. Despite the alarming nature of these statistics, hazing is widely underreported because 90 percent of those who have been hazed do not consider themselves victims of unlawful hazing.
The many forms of hazing range across various forms of physical abuse and deprivation, but alcohol is frequently involved in serious hazing incidents. Over 80 percent of all hazing incidents involve forced alcohol consumption. Alcohol poisoning is a common cause of devastating injuries and wrongful death in hazing incidents involving college students. Unfortunately, many college students do not consider the toxic impact of excessive alcohol abuse when using alcohol in hazing rituals. Other common forms of hazing include coerced sexual acts, sleep-deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures and isolation.
Georgia universities that fail to enforce anti-hazing policies may be liable for injuries that result from their indifference and lack of action. If you or someone close to you has suffered serious injury or a loved one has died in a hazing incident at the University of Georgia or any other college or university in Georgia, you may have a right to financial compensation.
Our experienced Georgia personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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