FAMU-Robert Champion Matter


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FAMU-Robert Champion Matter

  1. 1. FROM: http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/13/justice/florida-hazing-charges/index.html?eref=rss_topstories&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_topstories+%28RSS%3A+Top+Stories%29In accordance with Federal Laws provided For Educational and Information Purposes – i.e. of PUBLIC InterestFor many in FAMU band, pain a part of admissionprocessBy Phil Gast and Josh Levs, CNNupdated 5:31 AM EST, Wed December 14, 2011Florida A&M Universitys marching band had been plagued with accusations of hazing.(CNN) -- Bria Hunter tried to lie her way out of a meeting of the "Red Dawg Order," a club within the famedMarching 100 Band at Florida A&M University. For her deceit, according to police, the clarinet player wasallegedly struck more than 20 times.And for failing to memorize and properly cite information about the clique?That, according to a probable cause affidavit, resulted in a metal ruler across Hunters leg. The cumulative injuriesto her legs, according to police, landed Hunter in the hospital several days later with blood clots, deep bonebruising and a cracked femur.Getting into the "Clones," another group within the Marching 100, apparently didnt come without pain, either.Ivery Luckey estimated he was struck nearly 300 times, mostly "hard licks" at an initiation. Of the 25 to 30 peoplepresent, most were females, and several used wooden paddles on Luckey, according to a Tallahassee police report.
  2. 2. Bernstein: More hazing at FAMU Hazing part of bands history FAMU drum majors parents speak out FAMU unveils anti-hazing pledgeLuckey ended up in the hospital and had full renal failure, he said.The hazing-related death of band member Robert Champion has brought renewed public scrutiny to a practice thathas gone on for years.The Hunter and Luckey cases, 13 years apart, have shed light on the types of hazing some have allegedly faced astheyve tried to be a part of perhaps the most famous marching band in the land.Tuesday, three band members accused of hazing Hunter appeared in a Tallahassee courtroom.Attorney B.J. Bernstein said that Hunter, 18, who attended high school in metro Atlanta, is leaving FAMU."Bria was very brave -- she notified the school, she notified the police," Bernstein said.Just weeks before he died in what authorities say was a hazing-related incident, drum major Champion gave hersome advice, Hunter said.She did not follow it."He would always tell me, like, dont let people do it to you," Hunter, 18, told CNN affiliate WFTV in lateNovember.When asked why she participated in the hazing, Hunter answered, "So we can be accepted. If you dont doanything, then its like youre lame."
  3. 3. Champion, 26, who also attended Southwest DeKalb High School in Decatur, Georgia, died after a November 19football game that included a halftime performance. The band returned to its Orlando hotel following the game.The drum major "reportedly threw up in the parking lot and started complaining of not being able to breathe,"authorities said in a release. Champion was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. No cause of deathhas been released.After Champions death, some band members told CNN it may have been the result of a rite of passage called"crossing Bus C" -- the bus Champion was on after a game the night he died.One band member, who spoke with CNN on condition of anonymity, explained, "You have to walk from the frontof the bus to the back of the bus backwards while the bus is full of other band members and you get beaten untilyou get to the back." When asked what the point is, the band member answered, "for respect."FAMUs board of trustees voted last week to reprimand its president in the wake of Champions death, and thebands director has been placed on administrative leave while state police investigate.School spokeswoman Sharon Saunders on Tuesday issued a statement saying the universitys "board of trusteesand President (James) Ammons hope that through these arrests, all involved in perpetuating this culture will reallybegin to view hazing as a serious matter."FAMU has an anti-hazing policy.But B.J. Bernstein, Hunters attorney, said FAMU should be held accountable for hazing behavior, even if off-campus. She called the practice an "open secret.""Young people may call themselves the Red Dawgs, but any adult would know this is nothing more than a gang,with a form of initiation which essentially is a beat-down," Bernstein told reporters.Bernstein indicated her client most likely will file suit against FAMU.The student is giving up a four-year, $82,000 scholarship, said Bernstein."For any person whos a subject of hazing or a victim, this is a huge issue of why they dont come forward," theattorney told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "Were talking about young people whose entire education hangs on thefact that the school is giving them a full scholarship to be part of one of what was considered to be the greatestband in the United States."The Tallahassee Police probable cause affidavit said the three young men accused of hazing Hunter are membersof the Red Dawgs clique.Sean Hobson, 23, Aaron Golson, 19, and James Harris, 22 -- are charged with hazing, a crime under Florida law.Hobson and Golson are charged with felony battery as well.WFTV : Band members arrested; 2 to fight hazing chargesThe three appeared in court Tuesday, where they were ordered to have no contact with Hunter or with each other.Golsons attorney told CNN that there are inconsistencies in the probable cause affidavit."We feel the allegations against him are for the most part unfounded," said attorney Craig J. Brown.
  4. 4. "His stance is he was not hazed and would not do it to anyone else," said Brown, indicating his client will waivearraignment and plead not guilty.The affidavit says Hobson "denied all physical abuse allegations towards Hunter or any other pledge."It also quotes a text message authorities say Hobson sent to multiple people, including Hunter, that read, "Iapologize for the hurt I put you through. I apologize for the mental and physical strain that you have endured." But,the affidavit says, Hobson denied sending Hunter any such message.The affidavit says Harris "denied ever witnessing Hunter be struck during any kind of initiation meeting."An attorney representing Harris did not return a message left Tuesday by CNN. The clerks office did not have anattorney of record for Hobson.According to the affidavit, Hunter on October 31 falsely told Hobson that she could not attend an off-campusmeeting because she had a meeting of her band section."For the deceit, Hunter stated that she was lined up with approximately 11 other pledges with her being at thefront," the affidavit recounts. She said she was ordered to lift her legs up while standing, as if she was about tomarch, and was struck by Hobson and Golson, who were using their balled up fists "to punch her on the top of thethighs."After she was hit more than 20 times in the legs, Harris intervened and told Hobson and Golson to stop, theaffidavit says.Three witnesses corroborated Hunters account, and also said they were hit on the back of the head and neck, theaffidavit says.On November 1, at another meeting, Hunter and other pledges were beaten again, she told investigators. She saidHobson used a metal ruler across the top of her thighs."Accountability and responsibility is a critical part for any student whos a part of this," Bernstein said. "But evenmore so, Florida A&M has to change."Incidents of hazing have followed the FAMU band for years. In 2001, a student was paddled so badly he had to behospitalized for kidney failure, and just weeks before Champions death, band director Julian White suspended 26members for alleged hazing.In 1998, a Tallahassee Police Department report described Ivery Luckey as being "severely beaten." He and twoother students were to be initiated.CNN Atlanta affiliate WXIA reported that Luckey filed a lawsuit against the Florida Board of Regents and reacheda $50,000 settlement in 2004."Back then, you could be the best player on the field, but if you did not cross over in your section, theres no wayyoure marching at a game," Luckey told WXIA a few weeks ago."The hazing consisted of the group taking turns paddling each of the three continuously," the police report said.Luckey, a member of the clarinet section, estimated he was struck nearly 300 times at the off-campus initiation.Luckey told officers people in the group would hold him down when he tried to get up. "He stated that mostly girlsdid all of the paddling and there were numerous slaps to his face."
  5. 5. At one point he decided the beating was too severe and started to leave, but members convinced him that it wasnearly over and he should finish. The next day he was ill, and two days after the beating he was admitted to thehospital for severe bruising to his buttocks.The report said it "was apparent that he was in fear of future violence as a result of pressing charges."Bernstein said students who make complaints face pressure. Her client, she said, was crying and emotional beforetaking a final exam Tuesday."She experienced ridicule," the lawyer said of Hunter. "My understanding is some people already tweeting that itsa lie dont believe her. But there is no lie in what happened."