A Butler County grand jury has returned 64 misdemeanor charges against 18 men following an alleged fraternity hazing incident at Miami University.
The Delta Tau Delta fraternity near Miami’s main campus in Oxford received a 15-year suspension in August after a member claimed he was forced to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana and was beaten with a spiked paddle.
The suspension was the longest in the school’s history, according to officials.
“In May of 2019, Delta Tau Delta was found responsible for three violations of the Miami University Code of Conduct,” the university released in a statement.
“In June 2019, Delta Tau Delta’s headquarters revoked the Miami University chapter’s charter.
“Following an appeal by the chapter, findings of responsibility were upheld and the organization is suspended through March 16, 2034, with an option after March 16, 2029, to petition for an earlier return to campus.”
According to the incident report the student filed with the university and obtained in March 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 occurred at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house at 220 Tallawanda Road in Oxford near the Miami campus.
The indictment contains charges of assault and hazing, first- and fourth-degree misdemeanors. Because the charges are misdemeanors, the cases were referred back to Butler County Area I Court in Oxford for litigation.
Some face as few as two charges, while others face as many as six charges.
Those facing misdemeanor charges are: Andrew Michael Brinkman, Hugh Walker Webster, Michael Keen, Liam Joseph Newcomer, James MacKeigan, Joshua Karl Plaster, Tyler Joseph Glowaski, Conner Richard Meek, Alex Joseph Niezyniecki, Scott Charles Sidner, Nicholas Griswold, Jason Londa, Grady McMichen, Samay Lakshya Pahouja, Nicholas Carmichael, Benjamin Grossheim, Bennett William Faloni and Jonathan H. Raush.
Oxford Police Lt. Lara Fening confirmed the misdemeanor indictments came following a lengthy investigation and in cooperation with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office.
The alleged victim 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 says, “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.
Fening said the victim’s willingness to come forward was unusual in this case.
“Usually we hear about these incidents third or fourth party, at best, after the fact,” Fening said. “It is difficult to investigate. In this case, we did have a willing victim.”
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser declined comment about the charges.
“I have to be very, very cautious,” he said. “I am going to have a swarm of attorneys pouring over this case from all parts of the state of Ohio I am sure. The last thing I am going to do at this early stage is make any comments about the investigation, who it involves and what there is involved beyond the elements of the indictment.”
At the time of the incident, Miami President Gregory Crawford released a statement saying: “The contents of this report are brutal and deplorable and have brought us to a tipping point on this campus.”
Crawford added that he was “disheartened and outraged” by the behavior outlined in the complaint.
Staff Writer Michael D. Clark contributed to this report
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.