On February 2, 2017, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza attended Bid Acceptance Night at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house at Penn State University.
Bid Acceptance Night is typically a celebration where freshmen and sophomores are welcomed into a brotherhood of both new pledges and veteran members.
Tragically for Piazza, both his celebration and his life were cut short that night.Screenshot/ABC News
As previously reported, Piazza and the other pledges participated in a drinking game called “the gauntlet,” where the teens were forced to consume four or five glasses of wine, beer, or liquor in a two-minute period. As a result of this “game,” Piazza’s blood alcohol content rose to more than three-and-a-half times the legal limit.
A disturbing chain of events continued throughout the night, including Piazza falling head first down a flight of stairs. In response, fraternity brothers half-heartedly attempted to revive him by pouring water on him, slapping Piazza in the face multiple times, and even hitting him in the stomach after he rolled off the couch onto the floor.
Piazza fell and hit his head multiple times trying to stand. Meanwhile, countless fraternity brothers saw the sick boy and did nothing. According to ABC News, prosecutors say fraternity members waited 12 hours to finally call 911 so they could attempt to cover up their drinking and “coordinate a story.”
Piazza died on February 4 from traumatic brain injuries, a fate his father, Jim, called “totally preventable.” The fraternity has since been banned from Penn State’s campus.
Following Piazza’s death, eight members of Beta Theta Pi were charged with involuntary manslaughter, and 10 other members were charged with “hazing, aggravated and simple assault, alcohol-related violations, and tampering with evidence.”Screenshot/ABC News Screenshot/ABC News
During a preliminary hearing on July 10, new disturbing details were revealed.
Prosecutors have released damning texts and internet searches that were allegedly sent and made by fraternity brothers.Screenshot/ABC News Screenshot/ABC News
According to ABC News, some of the alleged texts between the former fraternity brothers read:
“I think after this we could be kicked off.”
“When they see the video footage of the obstacle course we will be done.”
Others allegedly opted to create a defense:
“Make sure the pledges clean the basement and get rid of any evidence of alcohol.”
“Make sure the pledges keep quiet about last night and this situation.”
Their internet searches also allegedly included, “How would 9 drinks in an hour affect a 200 pound guy.”
When it finally dawned on him that the fraternity’s mistakes could have fatal consequences, one brother allegedly texted this, according to NBC News:
“I don’t want to go to jail. Hazing is a huge thing.”
After this evidence was released, Frank Fina, defense attorney for the former fraternity president, questioned the detective who testified on the case, asking if “anyone threatened any pledges to drink, or if anyone threatened to harm pledges.” The detective replied that he was not aware of any coercion.Screenshot/ABC News
However, despite the alleged lack of intent to harm, evidence from the surveillance video released last month shows four fraternity brothers carrying a limp Piazza, who is sporting a large bruise indicative of a spleen injury.
In addition, footage shows fraternity members dragging Piazza across the floor and throwing shoes at the unconscious teen.Screenshot/ABC News
The Piazza family attorney, Tom Kline, said, according to ABC News:
“He was left to die and the evidence shows that. There were text message after text message shown in this courtroom today … all of which collectively demonstrate a callous disregard for one human being and a senseless need to try to preserve their own situations.”
ABC News reports that Penn State has planned to launch new preventative safety reforms, such as university staff members monitoring events, more control over misconducts in Greek life, as well as permanent removal of chapters that participate in abusive hazing.Screenshot/ABC News
Penn State President Eric Barron added, according to ABC News:
“There are other measures being discussed and will be instituted over time— all with a focus on prevention, monitoring and enforcement. These measures augment a series of actions taken earlier this year, which are being made permanent.
I am resolved to turn the pain and anguish radiating through our entire community into decisive action and reform, concentrating on the safety and well-being of students at Penn State.”
The Piazza family has plans to file a lawsuit against the Beta Theta Pi fraternity members as well as Penn State University.