AP: Former Pledges Charged in Relation to Desdunes Death
Posted by Oliver Renick on May 5, 2011
The Associated Press reported today that three former SAE pledges were charged with first degree hazing and unlawfully dealing with a child in Tompkins County court. Max Haskin, 19, Ben Mann, 20, and Edward Williams, 19, all pleaded not guilty on Thursday. Another underage defendant was involved.
Williams was also charged with criminal nuisance in the second degree, or knowingly maintaining any premise, place or escort where persons gather for purposes of engaging in unlawful conduct on or about Feb. 25, according to court documents.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, Haskin is a current student and the others are ‘former’ students. Mann was described by his attorney as being suspended. None of the students are listed on Cornell’s student database as of this evening.
While the SAE fraternity, whose recognition was revoked in March, will face the same charges as the former students, nobody has been charged with being responsible for Desdunes’ death.
“Contrary to earlier published reports, the grand jury after a full and thorough investigation has determined that none of these young men is responsible for the death of George Desdunes,” Haskin’s attorney told the Wall Street Journal.
Desdunes, another pledge, and the defendants took part in a voluntary ‘kidnapping,’ according to YNN. Desdunes and another individual were taken to an apartment around 1 a.m. after they had called for a designated driver to pick them up from a bar. The pledges then bound Desdunes’ hands and feet with zip ties and duct tape. The group then played a game where Desdunes was required to answer questions about the fraternity, and if his answers were wrong, he and the other ‘kindapped’ pledge were given water, flavored syrup, sugar or vodka. They were also required to do physical exercises, according to the allegations.
After Desdunes passed out in the car around 5 A.M., the brothers left him in the library of the fraternity house were he was eventually found the next morning. Upon arrival at Cayuga Medical Center, where Desdunes was pronounced dead, his blood alcohol conent was .35 percent.
The charge of hazing stems from the accusation of intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct creating a substantial risk of physical injury to another person and thereby, caused an injury to the person during an initiation activity. On unlawfully dealing with a child, the grand jury accused the defendants of giving or selling any alcoholic beverage to a person less than 21 years old, according to the Star Gazette.
The three defendants were released without bail. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison.