Friday, June 01, 2012

Detective: Champion "willingly participated" in hazing ritual

The parents of Robert Champion, a FAMU drum major who died after being hazed aboard a Fabulous Coach Lines vehicle on Nov. 19 in Orlando, continue to claim that their son was beaten against his will.

"My son wouldn't have (gone) along just to get along," Champion's father told CBS 46 Atlanta. "He didn't believe in any type of violence."

Robert, Sr. and Pam Champion's version of the story is at odds with the criminal investigation results of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO).

"The hazing episode which ultimately resulted in the death of Robert Champion originally involved three victims (Keon Hollis, Lissette Sanchez, and Robert Champion)," Detective David Phelan wrote in arrest warrant affidavits for defendants in the case. "Investigation revealed the aforementioned victims willingly participated in one or two of the phases of the hazing process."

Phelan told the judge who issued the warrants that, during both phases, the victims were beaten aboard the bus after they gave their consent.

"One hazing process is called 'hot seat,' and the other is called 'crossing over.' Both hazing processes involve the victim, a band member, voluntarily being beaten by other band members, who have previously and voluntarily gone through the hazing themselves," Phelan wrote.

Despite the evidence in the investigation files released to the public, Champion family attorney Christopher Chesnut says it isn’t clear to him that Robert boarded the bus on which he was hazed willingly.

"Whether Robert went on that bus voluntarily, whether he was coerced or whether he was forced on the bus we don't know," Chestnut said during a press conference.

The OCSO is standing behind the results of its criminal inquiry.

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