Utah State University hazing charges could be dismissed


By Brian Maffly
The Salt Lake Tribune
Six months after Cache County filed hazing charges against 12 Utah State University students and their Greek-letter societies, no one stands convicted of hazing in connection with the November alcohol poisoning of fraternity pledge Michael Starks.

First District Judge Thomas Willmore has meted out punishment, including four jail sentences, but for offenses other than hazing — the crime of encouraging or inducing someone to engage in humiliating or dangerous behavior as a condition for membership in an organization.

Willmore is fielding motions to dismiss by the four remaining defendants, raising the possibility that the state’s first major hazing prosecution will result in no hazing convictions. But prosecutors are not dismayed.

“Our goal has been to bring focus on the issue of underage binge drinking and the prosecution has been successful in doing that,” said Tony Baird, Cache County’s chief criminal prosecutor. “We successfully prosecuted the person who had bought the bottle [of vodka], who brought the bottle, who had the bottle and then threw the bottle away.” Full story.

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