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Four Charged After Student’s Hazing Death

Four Charged After Student’s Hazing Death


More arrests are expected in the coming weeks


Source: WSJ

By Mike Vilensky

Oct. 22, 2015


Four former University at Albany-SUNY students were charged with hazing this week in connection with an alcohol-related death stemming from a fraternity initiation ritual, the Albany Police Department said on Thursday.


More arrests are expected in the coming weeks, police said.


Steven Vila, 22 years old, and Jonathan Maldonado, 21, turned themselves in and were arraigned in Albany City Criminal Court, then released Thursday, the police said. Police said Wednesday that two other men, Olaf Jablonski, 20, and Yuval Sucov, 20, were arraigned and released in connection with the incident.


An attorney for Mr. Sucov declined to comment. Attorneys for the three other men didn’t respond to requests for comment.


The arrests follow an investigation into the death of Trevor Duffy, 19, of the Bronx, who died of an alcohol overdose on Nov. 16, 2014, after a pledging ceremony for Zeta Beta Tau, a fraternity that wasn’t sanctioned by the university.


Police said Messrs. Vila, Maldonado, Jablonski, and Sucov were involved in the initiation event that led to Mr. Duffy’s death.


Pledges at the event were “required, ordered and encouraged” to drink 1.75 liters of alcohol, according to the police report. Mr. Duffy had a blood-alcohol concentration of .583 before he died, the report said, and several other pledges were also hospitalized due to high levels of intoxication after the ceremony.


A university spokesman said the four men are no longer enrolled but declined to say if they were expelled after Mr. Duffy’s death, citing federal privacy laws.


“We continue to be saddened by the death of Trevor Duffy, and we thank the Albany Police Department for their efforts to bring justice to those responsible for this tragic incident” the spokesman said.


He added that the fraternity wasn’t “recognized, sanctioned or condoned by the University at Albany.”


The fraternity didn’t respond to requests for comment.


The arrests come a month after five students at Baruch College in Manhattan were charged with third-degree murder in connection with the 2013 death of a freshman participating in fraternity hazing ritual.


Hank Nuwer, a professor at Franklin College in Indiana and founding director of HazingPrevention.Org said he was “totally surprised” by the recent hazing-related criminal charges. Some of his early research focused on “the near impossibility of getting a hazing death looked at as a homicide,” he said.