Criminal Justice

22 Frat Members Face Hazing Case re NIU Student's Alcohol Poisoning Death; 5 Charged With Felonies

A freshman’s efforts to fit in at a Northern Illinois University fraternity party ended in his death last month, due to excessive drinking.

And now 22 members of the fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, which temporarily lost its NIU accreditation after David Bogenberger’s death on Nov. 2, face criminal hazing charges. Four fraternity leaders and the individual who planned the event are charged with felonies; the other 17 defendants face misdemeanor cases, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Tipping the balance in favor of criminal charges was the fact that the fraternity didn’t follow standard procedure of registering the party with NIU, in order to avoid scrutiny of expected drinking, according to a DeKalb County police spokesman. Bogenberger’s blood-alcohol level after his death reportedly was about five times the state’s legal limit 0.08 for drinking and driving.

“He wanted to be liked. He wanted to be accepted,” said family attorney Peter R. Coladarci of Bogenberger. “It’s a classic case of a kid who just wants to fit in with the group.”

The family said in a statement that it is still grappling with the 19-year-old finance major’s death and isn’t seeking revenge, but felt the criminal charges were needed to increase public awareness of the danger of hazing and excessive drinking and discourage others from behaving similarly in the future, the newspaper reports.

Also announced on Monday were student disciplinary charges brought by NIU against 31 fraternity members. The fraternity too faces disciplinary charges and could be permanently sanctioned.

Pi Kappa Alpha, which is headquartered in Tennessee, didn’t respond to the Tribune’s request for comment.

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