Eight people have been indicted in connection with the death last month of a sophomore at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, days after he had attended an off-campus fraternity event where school officials have said “alleged hazing activity” took place, prosecutors said on Thursday.
A grand jury indicted the men, seven of whom are Bowling Green students, on charges that included involuntary manslaughter and hazing in the death of Stone Foltz, 20, said Paul A. Dobson, the Wood County prosecuting attorney.
Most of the defendants, who range in age from 19 to 23, were also charged with multiple misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to underage people and obstructing official business. Two face charges of reckless homicide, the authorities said.
Mr. Dobson said in a statement that “the multiple counts of hazing and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws reflect the allegation that those defendants participated in providing copious amounts of alcohol to Mr. Foltz and the other new members” of the university’s Pi Kappa Alpha chapter.
On March 4, Mr. Foltz, a business major from Delaware, Ohio, attended a Pi Kappa Alpha event at an off-campus house, according to Mr. Dobson’s office. Their attendance was mandatory, Mr. Dobson said.
The event was part of a “new-member initiation process” where the new members, who were known as “little brothers,” or “littles,” were each given a bottle of “high-alcohol-content liquor,” Mr. Dobson said at a news conference on Thursday. Most of the new members were underage, he said.
“They were told that the tradition of the chapter was that the entire bottle — approximately 750 milliliters, what’s commonly referred to as a fifth — should be consumed by the ‘little’ at the event,” Mr. Dobson said. Mr. Foltz, he said, “consumed all or nearly all” of his bottle.
Mr. Foltz was later found unresponsive in his apartment in Bowling Green by a roommate, prosecutors said.
When paramedics arrived, Mr. Foltz was not breathing, and the roommate was performing CPR, prosecutors said. Mr. Foltz was taken to Wood County Hospital and was then transferred to Toledo Hospital, where he died on March 7.
The county coroner ruled that his death was an accident “as the result of a fatal level of alcohol intoxication during a hazing incident,” according to Mr. Dobson’s office.
Mr. Foltz’s blood alcohol level was “over four times the legal limit,” Mr. Dobson said at the news conference.
Earlier this month, the university, which is 20 miles south of Toledo, announced that it had expelled the fraternity after placing it on an interim suspension.
“Bowling Green State University is appreciative of the hard work and diligence done by the prosecutor and a grand jury to seek justice and hold those accountable in the tragic death of student Stone Foltz,” Alex Solis, a university spokesman, said on Thursday.
The university referred inquires about the indictment on Thursday to the Wood County prosecutor’s office.
The fraternity’s parent organization said in a statement on Thursday that “the actions of any individuals found responsible are unacceptable and do not align with Pi Kappa Alpha’s values.”
“The Fraternity’s standards are clear on the conduct expected of members and emphasize treating all people with dignity and respect,” it said.
In a statement issued by their lawyers, Mr. Foltz’s family said that the charges were “one step in the right direction, adding that “swift action also needs to be taken by government officials and university presidents nationwide to abolish fraternity hazing.”
“We are living every parent’s worst nightmare and will not be at peace until fraternity hazing is seen for what it truly is — abuse,” the family statement said.
The first-degree manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison, Mr. Dobson said. Third-degree felony manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison, as do “reckless homicide, tampering with evidence and obstructing justice,” Mr. Dobson said.
The prosecutor’s office worked with the Bowling Green Police Division and Bowling Green State University on the investigation.
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