Police announced that two Drake students have been charged with hazing in connection with Sunday’s hospitalization of Nate Erickson for alcohol poisoning.
Junior Skylar Otto and sophomore Joseph Hatchett, both Phi Delta Theta members, were charged with hazing – a serious misdemeanor in Iowa – and have been released.
Sgt. Lori Lavorato, public information officer for the Des Moines Police Department, said they were issued citations and released on their own recognizance.
“He was not physically forced to consume the alcohol,” Lavorato said. “It was more of a case of peer pressure, where he thought that, in order to become a member, he felt it was a necessity to do so. And in the hazing code, the elements fit the crime.”
Lavorato said that the Otto and Hatchett were cooperative with police and helpful to their investigations.
“They were very forthcoming and came in and spoke with us,” she said.
Lavorato said that if the two students are indicted, punishment could range from a substantial fine or over one year of imprisonment, since Erickson’s injury is considered serious and he could have died.
The two students will go in front of a Polk County judge within a week.
Drake spokeswoman Tory Olson said that the university is aware of the recent charges filed, but would not comment any further.
Tim Coonan, local alumni representative, said Tuesday that three Phi Delta Theta fraternity members were suspended for their involvement in this weekend’s events, pending a further investigation.
“As a result of the first steps of the investigation, the national fraternity determined that the role they played in whatever happened this weekend rose to the level of a suspension,” Coonan said.
Bob Biggs, executive vice president of Phi Delta Theta International, said the membership suspension came from his office. He said, pending further investigation, the students could either be reinstated or lose their membership permanently.
“We certainly do not condone their conduct and actions that were involved with Nate Erickson,” Biggs said.
Coonan said that the three students have sought legal consult. He also said all social events of the fraternity have been suspended indefinitely.
“We just have to figure out what happened this weekend and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Biggs said Erickson wants to resume classes as soon as possible. The Times-Delphic has learned that Erickson was, in fact, on campus today with his parents.
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