Eighteen men facing charges following an alleged fraternity hazing incident at Miami University are scheduled to be back in court in February, when new pleas are expected, according to prosecutors.
In October, a Butler County grand jury returned 64 misdemeanor charges against the men following a suspension of Delta Tau Delta fraternity near Miami’s main campus in Oxford. The fraternity received a 15-year suspension after a member claimed he was forced to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana and was beaten with a spiked paddle.
Visiting Judge Thomas Hanna was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court on Oct. 28 to hear the cases in Butler County Area I Court in Oxford. All three Area Court judges, Robert Lyons, Dan Haughey and Kevin McDonough, recused themselves from the cases.
According to the incident report filed by the student with the university and obtained through a Journal-News public records request, he claimed the alleged abuse “occurred during a hazing ritual at the university during a mandatory event.”
The student said the alleged incident happened at 7 p.m. March 16 at the fraternity house at 220 Tallawanda Road in Oxford.
The indictment contains charges of assault and hazing, first- and fourth-degree misdemeanors. Some face as few as two charges, while others face as many as six charges.
Those facing misdemeanor charges are: Andrew Michael Brinkman, Hugh Webster, Michael Keen, Liam Newcomer, James MacKeigan, Joshua Plaster, Tyler Glowaski, Connor Meek, Alex Niezyniecki, Scott Sidner, Nicholas Griswold, Jason Londa, Grady McMichen, Samay Lakshya Pahouja, Nicholas Carmichael, Benjamin Grossheim, Bennett Faloni and Jonathan H. Rauch.
The men were arraigned in November by Hanna, and the cases were continued until Tuesday and Friday for pre-trial hearings, according to court records. During those hearings, prosecutors put on the record that plea deals had been offered to those charged.
The same statement was read in court at both hearings by prosecutors, who said that “the state of Ohio has offered each of the 18 defendants the ability to enter a plea to one count of hazing, applicable to their designated pledge within their ‘fraternity family.’ While the behavior is abhorrent, the state recognizes that none of the charged defendants created this hazing process and likely were subjected to similar hazing themselves. However, these practices create a risk to the health and safety of the pledges and will not be tolerated.”
On Tuesday, Glowaski pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree misdemeanor, according to Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Heile. Hanna set additional plea hearings for Feb. 22 and Feb. 25.
Oxford Police Lt. Lara Fening said the misdemeanor indictments came following a lengthy investigation and in cooperation with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.
The accuser told school officials he was blindfolded and “told I could not leave even when I requested. Being forced to drink large amounts of alcohol and (smoke) marijuana. Other harassing and abusive behaviors such as spitting in face and kicking me.”
The incident report filed by the student also stated, “I was blindfolded alongside 24 other pledges and we all waited in a room for about 1.5 hours while very scary music was playing. At that point I was very intoxicated, and they hit me more and more with wooden paddles,” the report said.
“(I) told (redacted) within 5 minutes of being there ‘call 911 I feel like I’m going to die.’
“The emergency squad showed up and took me on a stretcher … the … ambulance where I then spent roughly 7 hours in the hospital with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .231 and was released at approximately 7:15 a.m. Sunday (March 17) morning,” the student wrote.
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