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Twenty-two arrest warrants have been issued in connection with an alleged hazing death of a freshman at Northern Illinois University. Prosecutors believe that the NIU frat hazing killed 19-year-old David Bogenberger.
In November, Bogenberger was found dead at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house near NIU's DeKalb campus.
Toxicology tests showed the freshman had a blood-alcohol concentration about five times the legal limit for driving, reports Chicago's WMAQ-TV. While cardiac arrhythmia is listed as the official cause of death, police believe that alcohol intoxication was a significant factor.
The 22 individuals named in the arrest warrants are all members of Pi Kappa Alpha's NIU fraternity. Five are fraternity leaders including the frat's president, vice president, event planner, pledge advisor, and secretary. They're facing Class 4 felony charges for hazing under Illinois' Hazing Act.
The other 17 arrest warrants were issued for frat members who are accused of providing alcohol to underage pledges and "creating a situation where the pledges felt compelled to consume alcohol as part of membership initiation and the Greek parenting process," according to WMAQ.
In the wake of several high-profile hazing deaths, many states, including Illinois, have adopted anti-hazing laws to stop this potentially dangerous practice. Anti-hazing laws typically make those participating in hazing responsible for a victim's death or injury. In some cases, participants may be committing a crime simply by being present at a hazing incident, even if no one is injured.
Along with criminal penalties, most colleges and universities also prohibit hazing. So in addition to any criminal penalties, a hazing participants can also be suspended from school and face other disciplinary measures.
Hazing is a relatively new crime and there may be little precedent on how these cases are handled. If you are charged with a hazing-related crime, you will want to work with a criminal defense attorney to help weigh your options and available defenses.