I thought I'd post this for the students and alumni who are not in New Jersey or the greater Philadelphia area
Rider Univ. Dean Enters 'Not Guilty' Plea
(AP) TRENTON Rider University's dean of students pleaded not guilty Thursday to a criminal charge in connection with the death of a freshman who was binge drinking at a fraternity house.
The dean, Anthony Campbell, was one of two school officials and three students charged with aggravated hazing. He did not speak at Thursday's court hearing.
The student, Gary DeVercelly Jr., 18, of Long Beach, Calif., had a blood-alcohol level of 0.426 percent, or more than five times New Jersey's legal limit for driving, when he was pronounced dead March 30 at a Trenton hospital, authorities have said. He died one day after drinking at a party at the Phi Kappa Tau house on the private school's campus in central New Jersey.
The party, according to prosecutors, was a special event in which pledges such as DeVercelly would drink with fraternity members. Some of the pledges drank entire bottles of hard liquor in under an hour, prosecutors said.
The four others charged are Ada Badgley, 31, the university's director of Greek life; Adriano DiDonato, 22, a student who was also the residence director and house master of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house; Dominic Olsen, 21, pledge master of Spring 2007 Phi Kappa Tau pledge class; and Michael J. Torney, 21, the chapter president.
DiDonato pleaded not guilty on Wednesday. Badgley, Olsen and Torney have yet to appear in court.
Before Thursday's hearing, Campbell's lawyer, Rocco Cipparone, said his client wasn't at the party and didn't play any role in arranging it.
"I'm not aware of any set of facts and circumstances that could remotely serve as a basis for a conviction of a crime," he said.
If convicted of the hazing charge, the officials and fraternity members would face a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Prosecutors said the defendants "knowingly or recklessly organized, promoted, facilitated or engaged in conduct which resulted in serious bodily injury" to DeVercelly and another student, William Williams, who survived.
Doug Fierberg, a lawyer who's represented hazing victims since the mid-1990s, said it's rare for a university official to be held responsible for hazing.
"This involves a watershed event where the public has to recognize that universities have to be safe and have to take these kinds of events seriously," said Fierberg, who's been retained by DeVercelly's parents.
Henry Nuwer, a college professor who's studied campus hazing for years, said the case will send a strong message to higher education officials about their accountability for hazings.
"Who wants to go through a perp walk? That would scare anyone to death. It's not what you go into teaching for. The pay isn't good enough," said Nuwer, an assistant professor of journalism at Franklin College in Franklin, Ind.
Nuwer said it will be difficult for prosecutors to prove Campbell and Badgley committed a crime.
"I haven't seen the reckless disregard you would need for a conviction," Nuwer said.
Campbell and Badgley are still employed by the university. A university spokesman, Jonathan Meer, has said a decision on their status is expected next week.
Cipparone, Campbell's lawyer, has said his client may need some time off for his legal proceedings, but he fully intends to continue working at the university.
The school dissolved the Phi Kappa Tau chapter last Friday.
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