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10 charged in hazing death of US teen

Alleged leader of fraternity gang who forced first year to drink large amounts of alcohol charged with homicide

Image Credit: AP
Zachary Hall, left and Sean Pennison, second from right, are escorted by LSU Police officers after being booked at LSU Police Dept. headquarters on charges of hazing.

Chicago: Louisiana State University police on Wednesday charged 10 young men for the alleged hazing death of an 18-year-old last month, levelling a homicide charge against one of the accused.

The current and former students of the university in the southern US state are accused of forcing freshman Maxwell Gruver to drink large amounts of alcohol during initiation activities at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity in mid-September.

“Today’s arrests underscore that the ramifications of hazing can be devastating,” university president F. King Alexander said in a statement.

“Maxwell Gruver’s family will mourn his loss for the rest of their lives, and several other students are now facing serious consequences — all due to a series of poor decisions.”

The ten are charged with misdemeanour counts of hazing, but Matthew Alexander Naquin is also charged with one count of negligent homicide, the university said.

The Advocate newspaper obtained police documents that identified Naquin as “the most aggressive by far during the hazing event” and “in charge of the hazing event.”

Gruver was specifically targeted during a hazing ritual called “Bible Study” — in which participants are forced to drink if they answer questions wrong — because he was not liked by some fraternity members, The Advocate reported.

Gruver was found with a weak pulse the following morning and driven from the fraternity house to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Gruver’s blood alcohol level was .495, more than six times the legal limit, US media reported.

Following Gruver’s death, the university suspended all activities by fraternities, and engaged in an ongoing review of the governance and oversight of so-called “Greek” organizations.

Louisiana’s governor John Bel Edwards ordered a similar review at all state-run universities and colleges, to be completed by the end of October.