Five fraternity members charged in death of Baruch College freshman

Five fraternity members were charged with murder and 32 others face criminal charges for their involvement in the 2013 hazing death of a freshman from Baruch College in New York City. 

Andrew Scott/Pocono Record via AP
From left to right, Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department Cpl. Lucas Bray, Detective Robert Miller, Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Michael Rakaczewski and Police Chief Christopher Wagner speak during a Tuesday, news conference in Pocono Summit, Pa., about plans to arrest 37 people in the December 2013 death of 19-year-old Chun 'Michael' Deng, a freshman from Baruch College in New York City.

Nearly two years after a college student died during a fraternity hazing ritual in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, murder charges have been filed against five people.

Members of New York City's Baruch College Pi Delta Psi fraternity brutally assaulted Chun "Michael" Deng during an initiation rite in September 2013 and delayed taking him to the hospital, contributing to his death, police said.

Officials said he was blindfolded, saddled with a 30-pound backpack full of sand, and repeatedly tackled while he tried to walk toward a target across a frozen field. Mr. Deng eventually complained that his head hurt then fell unconscious.

Pi Delta Psi fraternity members did not call 911 after Deng passed out, and allegedly waited an hour before bringing him to a hospital, police say. They did, however, find time to change Deng's clothes, Google his symptoms, and contact Andy Meng, the fraternity's national president to seek advice, Police Chief Chris Wagner said at a news conference.

"At this point, members began to hide paraphernalia and basically put the fraternity's well-being over that of Michael Deng's," Chief Wagner said.

He could not be revived and he died the next morning. According to an autopsy report, Deng was subjected to repeated blunt force trauma to his head, torso, and thighs.

“Too many families have been devastated as a result of fraternity hazing, with at least one student dying every year from hazing since 1970,” Douglas Fierberg, an attorney representing Deng's family, said in a statement.

“Fraternities and their members must be held accountable, and this step by authorities is an important one.”

A Monroe County grand jury recommended third-degree murder charges for the first five members. Thirty-two other fraternity members, including Mr. Meng, will also be charged with assault hazing and criminal conspiracy.

"We want to hold not only the individuals involved, but if there's an organization that sanctioned it, whether officially or unofficially, we're going to hold them accountable as well," Wagner said at a news conference Tuesday.

Baruch College banned the fraternity and the national fraternity revoked its affiliation with the local chapter. 

This report includes material from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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