The father of a Penn State sophomore who died after a fraternity hazing incident said Monday that he wants to see members of the fraternity punished, as prosecutors announced new charges in his son’s death.
“It’s time to man up, fellas, and be held accountable for your actions,” Jim Piazza said at a press conference on Monday. “We are making holiday plans without our son Tim because of your actions. If you did not commit the acts you did, we would not be here today, and we would be anxiously awaiting Tim’s return home for Thanksgiving break on Friday. Instead we are asking, how do we make sense of the obvious void at our Thanksgiving table?”
Tim Piazza died in February after being forced to drink a toxic amount of alcohol in an alleged hazing ritual called “the gauntlet” and then falling repeatedly, sustaining traumatic injuries to his brain and spleen.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller filed new charges on Monday against an additional 12 members of the now-defunct Beta Theta Pi chapter at Penn State. The charges, which range from involuntary manslaughter to furnishing alcohol to minors, came after investigators recovered surveillance video that had been deleted. A total of 27 defendants now face charges in Tim Piazza’s death, which defense attorneys have described as a tragic accident.
Read Jim Piazza’s remarks from the press conference on Monday:
We would like to thank the District Attorney and the State College Police for their continued commitment and efforts in finding justice for our son Tim’s death. Tim was a happy and caring human being and a wonderful son who just wanted to join an organization to find friendships and camaraderie. Instead he was killed at the hands of those he was seeking friendship from. We have spent the past eight months wondering, how can this happen on the campus of Penn State? The visions of him lying in a hospital bed, battered and bruised, and on life support looking as if he got hit by a tractor trailer make no sense. He was just trying to join an organization.
Over the last several months, we listened to defense arguments centered around victim-blaming or, ‘How could the defendants have known they were putting someone seriously at risk since no one died before?’ As if they were entitled to one free death. Or the catch-all argument of ‘we don’t know.’ They claimed, ‘We don’t know what else happened other than what was seen in the upstairs video and we don’t know what happened in the basement.’
Guess what, guys? Now we know. We know there was more criminal and egregious negligent behavior by the same and more people. As for the argument of, ‘How could they know they were putting someone seriously at risk,’ that’s a joke. Did none of them pay attention in their high school health class? Coercing someone to drink seven to eight drinks in 12 minutes or close to 20 drinks in a matter of 90 minutes is egregiously reckless, and according to the police and the DA, is criminal. They then left him to die alone, and they tried to cover it up.
Hazing is illegal, and justice needs to be served. It’s time to man up, fellas, and be held accountable for your actions. We are making holiday plans without our son Tim because of your actions. If you did not commit the acts you did, we would not be here today, and we would be anxiously awaiting Tim’s return home for Thanksgiving break on Friday. Instead we are asking, how do we make sense of the obvious void at our Thanksgiving table?
Hazing needs to stop. There is just no place for it. A statement needs to be made. Universities throughout the country are starting to take a much tougher stance against hazing and the hazers. And we applaud them for it. The leadership at Penn State needs to take a tougher stance and should start by following through on their own proposals. However, I remain concerned.
We would also like to thank our family, friends and the thousands of total strangers who share our common goal of justice and an end to hazing, for all of their continued support, thoughts and prayers. We know we are not on this journey alone. This was evidenced by a letter we received just last week from a complete stranger who said, “I will always remember Tim because his life mattered to me.” Thank you.