Showing posts with label hazing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hazing. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Orlando Sentinel editorial board doubles down after hitting new low in 2012

Orlando Sentinel editorial board members Darryl E. Owens and Paul Owens
The Orlando Sentinel editorial board has doubled down on its decision to respond to FAMU’s alleged insensitivity to victims of voluntary hazing by being insensitive to rape victims. 

Back in 2012, FAMU filed a motion to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of deceased drum major Robert Champion. The motion pointed out that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office investigation concluded that their son “willingly participated” in the illegal hazing ritual that took his life in Orlando on Nov. 19, 2011. FAMU argued that Florida taxpayers shouldn’t be held legally liable for a 26-year old adult’s decision to break rules that were in place to protect him.

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board criticized FAMU with the statement: “Rather than working contritely with the family on a resolution, FAMU borrowed a page from the rape defense playbook and blamed the victim.” It doubled down on that statement in a Sept. 24, 2015 editorial entitled: “Hazing lessons must guide FAMU.”

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Champions settle with FAMU for $300,000 and with hotel insurer for $800,000

Yesterday, numerous headlines incorrectly reported that the family of deceased FAMU drum major Robert Champion had reached a $1.1 million settlement with the university. But the settlement between the Champions and FAMU is actually $300,000. The money will be paid by the Florida Department of Financial Services.

FAMU offered the Champions $300,000 in 2012, but the family rejected it. The Florida sovereign immunity law sets $300,000 as the most that state universities may pay as part of a legal proceeding. Higher amounts must come from a claims bill passed by Florida Legislature.

The Champions have now decided to accept the $300,000 settlement even though it is $7.7 million less than the $8 million that a July article in the Orlando Sentinel reported that they asked FAMU to pay, earlier.  

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Claims bill cites Harper’s work despite critical state auditor review that preceded his exit

A claims bill (SB 60) that seeks compensation for the parents of deceased FAMU drum major Robert Champion cites a 2012 report written about FAMU’s anti-hazing program by former Florida Board of Governors (BOG) Inspector General Derry Harper despite the critical state auditor review that preceded Harper’s exit from that job.

Sen. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boynton Beach, introduced the bill on July 31. It does not specify a payment amount. But the Orlando Sentinel reported nine days before the bill was filed that the Champion family had offered to settle its wrongful death lawsuit against FAMU for $8 million. A civil trial is scheduled to begin in October.

FAMU offered the Champions $300,000 in 2012, but the family rejected it. The Florida sovereign immunity law sets $300,000 as the most that state universities can pay as part of a legal proceeding. Higher amounts must come from a claims bill passed by Florida Legislature. A claims bill that Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, filed for the Champion parents in 2013 did not receive approval from the legislature.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Judge says, once again, that evidence shows Champion willingly participated in hazing ritual

Yesterday, Circuit Judge Renee A. Roche sentenced three former members of the FAMU Marching 100 band convicted in the 2011 hazing homicide of drum major Robert Champion. Benjamin McNamee, 24, Aaron Golson, 22, Darryl Cearnel, 28, each received 10 years of probation.

Roche sentenced the convicted ringleader of the lethal “Crossing Bus C” hazing ritual, Dante Martin, to six years and five months of prison in January. Prosecutors had requested a sentence of nine years for Martin. But Roche said the evidence that Champion was a “willing participant” in the hazing process influenced her decision to order Martin to serve a lower amount of time than they recommended.

At yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Roche repeated the point that the evidence from the trial convinced her that Champion volunteered to be hazed.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Final 3 defendants convicted in Champion hazing homicide

Yesterday, an Orange County, Fla. jury returned guilty verdicts for the final three defendants in the Robert Champion homicide case.

Benjamin McNamee, 25, Aaron Golson, 22, and Darryl Cearnel, 28, were all convicted of felony hazing and manslaughter. Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 26. Each could face a maximum of 15 years in prison.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Circuit judge says Robert Champion was a “willing participant” in hazing ritual

At the sentencing hearing for the accused ringleader of the deadly “Crossing Bus C” hazing ritual in the FAMU band, Circuit Judge Renee A. Roche said the evidence in the trial proved that deceased victim Robert Champion, Jr. was a “willing participant” in the hazing process.

Back on October 31, 2014, an Orange County, Fla. jury found former band member Dante Martin guilty of manslaughter in the hazing death of Champion. It also found him guilty of two misdemeanor hazing convictions against former Marching 100 band members Lissette Sanchez and Keon Hollis. The three victims were beaten on a parked bus at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando on November 19, 2011 after the Florida Classic football game.

Prosecutors requested a sentence of nine years for Martin. But Roche decided on a sentence of six years and five months.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dante Martin sentenced to 6 years, 5 months for “Crossing Bus C” hazing convictions

Dante Martin, an ex-FAMU band member who witnesses said was the ringleader of the deadly “Crossing Bus C” hazing process, received a sentence of six years and five months yesterday.

Back on October 31, 2014, an Orange County, Fla. jury found Martin guilty of manslaughter in the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion, Jr. It also found him guilty of two misdemeanor hazing convictions against former Marching 100 band members Lissette Sanchez and Keon Hollis.

Sanchez and Hollis both identified Martin as the leader of the hazing process.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Dante Martin, accused “Bus C” ringleader, found guilty on all counts

Yesterday, an Orange County, Fla. jury found the accused “Crossing Bus C” ringleader guilty of manslaughter in the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion, Jr.

Dante Martin, 27, was immediately fingerprinted and taken into the custody of the Orange County Sheriff after the verdict was delivered. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 9, 2015. His attorneys said they plan to appeal.

Martin could face up to a total of 22 years for the manslaughter conviction and two misdemeanor hazing convictions against former Marching 100 band members Lissette Sanchez and Keon Hollis.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fabulous Coach Lines had $5M insurance limit

Back during a 2012 interview with CNN Reporter George Howell, Fabulous Coach Lines President Ray Land defended his business’ actions on the day that FAMU drum major Robert Champion lost his life aboard a vehicle owned by the company. Champion died from injuries he suffered during a 2011 hazing ritual that took place on a Fabulous Coach Lines bus in Orlando, Florida. The Champion family later filed a civil law suit against the company.

“To own and operate a fleet of buses like this, Fabulous Coach Lines maintains a high insurance limit,” Howell reported. “And Ray Land believes that is the reason his business is being targeted. He believes the lawsuit is misguided.”

It now looks like the Champions might have been successful in getting a piece of that “high insurance limit.” Last week, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the Champions had reached a settlement with the bus company. The Champions have declined to release details about the agreement.

According to the records of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Fabulous Coach Lines had a $5 million insurance limit from June 30, 2011 through January 27, 2012. Champion died on November 19, 2011.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mangum skeptical of claims that hazing news led to FAMU’s enrollment decline

At her recent meeting with the Orlando Sentinel editorial board, FAMU President Elmira Mangum expressed skepticism in response to a suggestion that a 2011 hazing death led to the university’s enrollment decline. She said that the federal financial aid crisis and economic downturn are the biggest reasons that FAMU has fewer students.

The following comes from her interview with the editorial board:

Q: Has the university recovered after the hazing scandal, as it relates to rebounding enrollment numbers?

A: I believe that we have recovered from that, if that is the reason students chose not to come to FAMU, and I'm not really convinced that's the reason why enrollment declined...Much of it had to deal with the availability of financial aid, the economic downturn and people not being able to afford an education....I think many institutions would be challenged if that [hazing] were the reason why students chose not to come, because hazing is a problem in America — and it's a problem on most campuses. The fact that FAMU was highlighted was grave and disappointing, but it's a part of our culture at every college and institution. We do our best to make sure we have a safe environment for our students, and FAMU has done an awful lot, probably more than most colleges.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jarrod Deas sentenced to probation for Champion hazing

On Friday, another defendant in the Robert Champion criminal hazing case took a plea deal to avoid prison.

On Friday, Jarrod Deas, a former drum major in the Marching 100, pled no contest to a felony charge of “hazing causing injury or death" and avoid jail time in the death of Robert Champion.  Following the plea, prosecutors dropped the manslaughter and misdemeanor charges against Deas.

The court sentenced Deas to five years probation and ordered him to complete an anti-hazing class and perform 100 hours of community service.

So far only one of 13 suspects in the case has received jail time.  

Deas is now expected to serve as a prosecution witness against the four remaining defendants in the Champion hazing case.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Baskin receives 51-week jail sentence in Champion hazing death

Yesterday, Jessie Baskin became the first defendant to receive a jail sentence for the 2011 hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion.

According to the Associated Press: Baskin, 22, “was sentenced to 51 weeks in the county jail, five years of probation and 300 hours of community service.” He will also be required to pay a $3,000 fine.

Baskin, who pled no contest to a manslaughter charge, was described by prosecutors as being “most-consistently identified as the most enthusiastic” hazer. The sentence he received is far less than the nine-years that State Attorney Jeff Ashton requested.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Charges dropped charges against former band member in Champion case

Prosecutors have dropped charges against one of the remaining defendants in the hazing death of Robert Champion.   

Henry Nesbitt had faced manslaughter and hazing charges until the state attorney notified the court Friday that they would not pursue prosecution of those alleged crimes, according to Orange County court documents and published reports.
“Henry Nesbitt was the one person who was there who snatched someone’s cellphone and called 911 for Mr. Champion,” Nesbitt’s attorney, Zachary White, said Saturday. “The evidence shows that he wasn’t on the bus at the time when any of the activities were going on.”
White said there was a lack of evidence for prosecutors to move forward with a case against Nesbitt.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

FAMU Department of Music takes anti-hazing, recruitment tour to South Florida

The FAMU Department of Music will journey to South Florida Feb. 21 – 23 to commence the next edition of the “Working Together to Stop Hazing” recruitment and outreach tour.

“This recruitment and anti-hazing tour offers representatives of the university an opportunity to showcase the talent that is being cultivated within FAMU's music department,” said Special Assistant to the President for Anti-Hazing Bryan Smith. “It also reiterates the university’s zero tolerance stance on hazing. We want potential students, their parents, and anyone interested in recommending FAMU as an educational option, to know that our academic programs are high quality and we are dedicated to providing a safe and caring campus environment.”

On Feb. 21, at 6 p.m., the tour will make its first stop at Oakridge High School in Orlando, Fla. On Feb. 22, at 11:30 a.m., the tour will continue at Palm Beach Lakes High School in West Palm Beach, Fla. and at Myrtle Grove Elementary School in Miami starting at 7:45 p.m. The tour will conclude on Feb. 23, at 3 p.m., at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla. Each tour stop is free and open to students from surrounding high schools and the general public.

Monday, December 23, 2013

FAMU music department holds anti-hazing workshops in Georgia and Illinois

The FAMU Department of Music is continuing to add to its legacy of service and scholarship. On Tuesday, Dec. 17, Shelby Chipman, associate professor of music, led more than 40 students from the department’s chamber ensembles and the Marching “100” to Lithonia, Ga., to present aspiring music students at Miller Grove High School with a workshop on anti-hazing.  The FAMU students also put on a mini-concert .

The anti-hazing workshop was organized by Bryan Smith, special assistant to president for anti-hazing and Deirdre McRoy, department of music compliance officer.

Afterwards, Miller Grove students had the opportunity to audition for scholarships in the FAMU music program. 

From Georgia, the FAMU ensemble traveled to the Midwest to hold more auditions, share the anti-hazing message, and present a concert  for the students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Prep High School in Chicago on Dec. 20.  While in Chicago, the department attended the U.S. Marines Band Concert and participated in the prestigious National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Clinic. The clinic is one of the most attended band and orchestra conferences around the globe, as more than 10,000 musicians and educators attend each year.

Monday, December 09, 2013

New FAMU ΚΑΨ chapter president must provide the strong leadership that Torey didn’t

Back when Torey Alston was the president of the Alpha Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, a number of his fraternity brothers created a national embarrassment for FAMU by making the stupid decision to haze an aspirant.

That led to a seven-year chapter suspension that just ended this summer. On Saturday, Alpha Xi introduced 25 new members.  

The new FAMU ΚΑΨ president must now provide the type of strong leadership that Torey failed to give the chapter during his days as a student.

Former FAMU student Marcus Jones, who attempted to join Alpha Xi while Torey was the chapter president, was paddled with wooden canes and punched during unauthorized rituals.

Jones did not directly accuse Torey of participating in the hazing. But he did mention Torey’s name in an account of the early stage of the pledging process that he told the St. Petersburg Times. Jones' accusations suggest that Torey knew of the chapter’s activities and turned a deaf ear.

Monday, November 25, 2013

FAMU strikes blow against culture of hazing with safe Marching 100 season

The culture of hazing that has plagued the FAMU student body for years won’t disappear overnight, but the university scored a critical victory against it during the 2013 marching band season.

FAMU’s Marching 100 is done with its football halftime performance schedule for this school year. There were no reported incidents of hazing.

Former FAMU President James H. Ammons suspended the 100 in November, 2011 following the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion, Jr. According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Champion “willingly participated” in a violent, unauthorized pledging ritual aboard a parked bus after that year’s Florida Classic in Orlando.

At Ammons’s request, the FAMU Board of Trustees approved a new comprehensive Anti-Hazing Plan. It introduced new band regulations that included a four-year cap on the number of years a student can participate in music department bands, a requirement that all band members be enrolled full-time at FAMU, and a ban on practices that are not supervised by music department staff.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Marching 100 students must protect band’s future by following rules during Florida Classic

This football season, many FAMU fans could be heard repeating an old saying: “I’m going to the game to see the Marching 100 play.”

There wasn’t much to cheer about this year at Bragg Memorial Stadium, where FAMU lost all five of its home contests. But despite all the disappointment on the gridiron, Rattlers were still able to shout at the visiting opponents and say: “Our band is better than your band!”

That was on display again last Saturday. While FAMU lost 29-21 to the Hornets, Rattlers were able to enjoy a fun halftime show. But unfortunately, FAMU had to settle for winning the battle of the bands by default. The DSU “Approaching Storm” did a 180 turn from its path toward Tallahassee as university officials suspended it in response to hazing allegations.

“It’s a shame that a few people can’t follow the rules and the whole band has to suffer as a result at this time,” Provost Alton Thompson said of the first-ever band suspension in the school’s history.

The struggle against unauthorized pledging rituals goes on. This week, the Marching 100 will share the Florida Classic halftime field with Bethune-Cookman  University (BCU), another historically black university that is also confronting the aftermath of a student death linked to hazing.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

FAMU right to give MUN 1110’s return priority over bringing a sorority back to the yard

On Sunday, the parents of slain drum major Robert Champion, Jr. protested the Marching 100’s return to the field by attending its performance during the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando. They continue to criticize FAMU for giving the band a shorter suspension than a campus sorority linked to a reported hazing incident that didn’t result in a student death.

“FAMU recently suspended two sororities for multiple years of incidents involving hazing,” Pamela Champion said in quote published by Reuters back in June. “Why is the band being held to a much more lenient standard, following the brutal hazing that resulted in the death of my son?”

FAMU suspended the Marching 100 for a year and a half from November 2011 through June 2013. The university recently placed its chapters of Delta Sigma Theta and Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority on suspension, as well. The Deltas will remain off the yard for three years, until June 30, 2016. The Gammas won’t return until June 30, 2014. Both disciplinary actions came in the wake of hazing allegations.

The Champion family’s objection to the fact that the Marching 100 received a shorter suspension than the ΔΣΘ chapter misses an important difference between the two cases. FAMU is spending more money to pay for additional staffers and chaperones to maintain tight control of MUN 1110 (the marching band class) activities. Extracurricular organizations like sororities don’t warrant that type of financial investment from the university.