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CNN probes hazing at PSU

Documentary will focus on Piazza, Braham incidents

A CNN Special Report episode about Penn State fraternity hazing will focus on the story of student Tim Piazza as well as Penn State Altoona student Marquise Braham. Families of both students are now working to end hazing nationwide.

“A Deadly Haze: Inside the Fraternity Crisis” is set to air Friday at 3 and 8 p.m. on HLN.

It’s advertised as an in-depth look at the fraternity death of Piazza, a 19-year-old student at Penn State’s main campus in State College.

The documentary also includes Richard Braham, whose son died shortly after becoming a member of an Altoona campus fraternity in 2014. He and Piazza were the same age.

The suicide of Marquise Braham, 19, of New York was investigated by a Pennsylvania statewide grand jury. That investigation found the Altoona campus fraternity had hazed pledges, but state investigators could not find evidence to support charges against individual fraternity members in Braham’s death.

The CNN documentary was slated to air in April, but was delayed by breaking news, including President Donald Trump’s missile strike in Syria, then U.S. Congressman John McCain’s death and then the scandal of Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen.

Because of the delay, the documentary was updated with new developments. In September, the Braham and Piazza families launched nationwide anti-hazing campaign joined by national leaders of fraternities and sororities.

“That was a big deal,” Braham said in a telephone interview Monday. “We are working with them (fraternity and sorority leaders) to strengthen laws in all 50 states. We are building a template for laws to hold all those who haze more accountable.”

In October, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law, which strengthens penalties for hazing and ensures that schools have safeguards to protect students.

The measure, which received unanimous legislative support:

n Strengthens penalties for hazing and for the first time, includes a felony for aggravated hazing that results in serious injury or death.

n Holds organizations accountable for promoting hazing, including possible confiscation of fraternity and sorority houses.

n Requires schools to have antihazing rules, enforcement policies and preventative measures.

n Gives students immunity from prosecution for calling police or seeking assistance for someone in need of help.

Braham said the group has met with legislators in multiple states over the last two months, and a new law to discourage hazing is in draft stages.

“The top priority is to make it a felony in all 50 states,” he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.

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