Did the Penn State Fraternity Get Charged for Tim Piazza’s Death?

Photo of Coffin and flowersThe death of Timothy Piazza in February left Penn State reeling and his family with many questions.

During a fraternity initiation event for the school’s Beta Theta Pi chapter, pledges were made to drink large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time while completing a series of challenges. A short time into the night, Piazza showed signs of severe intoxication. He fell down a flight of stairs head first and suffered the first of a series of traumatic brain injuries that would eventually lead to his wrongful death. Despite his obvious injuries, the other men present did not call 911 for fear of consequences due to his intoxication. It took nearly 12 hours for the fraternity to call emergency services. Afterwards, fraternity brothers engaged in a cover-up, deleting communications relating to the alcohol present and Piazza’s final hours.

One of the 10 fraternity members charged is a former student of Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tennessee. Jonah Neuman is facing 57 charges, including involuntary manslaughter, assault, furnishing alcohol to minors and 14 counts of reckless endangerment and hazing.

Hazing Laws in Tennessee

Despite a well-developed body of law creating liability for hazing incidents, hazing still remains a huge problem in Tennessee.

Hazing is defined under Tennessee law as any intentional or reckless act on or off the property of any higher education institution by one student acting alone or with others which is directed against any other student that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of that student, or which induces or coerces a student to endanger such student’s mental or physical safety.

Victims of hazing can seek damages from those who propagate the behavior through personal injury claims.

Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”



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