The mother of a 19-year-old Cornell University sophomore, who died after being forced to drink heavily at a fraternity house in February, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the fraternity. It was alleged that the student was hazed, tied up and then left to die. The student, George Desdunes, joined a chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at Cornell, which is in Ithaca, N.Y. He was kidnapped in the early morning by fraternity pledges who bound his wrists and ankles with zip ties and duct tape. He was forced to drink until he passed out, according to the suit. It was alleged that the student was found unconscious on the same couch later that morning, his hands and feet still tied. The suit was filed by his mother, Marie Lourdes Andre, in a state court in Brooklyn.
It was alleged in the lawsuit that one of the pledges tried “to interfere with the crime scene by having the zip ties removed before police arrived.” An autopsy showed the decedent had a blood-alcohol level of 0.409 percent, five times the legal limit for driving in New York and many other states. Some former pledges of the fraternity were charged with “first-degree hazing” and “unlawfully dealing with a child” in connection with the death. Cornell withdrew recognition of the fraternity and its members had to leave the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house. The chapter was suspended by the fraternity’s national headquarters.
Tommy Bruce, a spokesman for Cornell, said the university “neither condones nor tolerates hazing or the type of activities that we understand contributed to George’s death.” Unfortunately, this sort of thing goes on at many collegiate universities in this country. It’s past time for college and university officials, involving presidents and boards of trustees, to take strong action to combat activities of the sort involved in this case.
Source: New York Times
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