*(Via Miami Herald) – The shocking and tragic death of a Florida A&M University band member last November, which provoked an outcry in Florida and nationwide over the longstanding practice of campus hazing, culminated Wednesday when prosecutors filed charges — although none for murder — against 13 suspects.
The 13 defendants who allegedly took part in the beating death of Robert Champion — a 26-year-old drum major — will face charges of a hazing resulting in death, a third-degree felony, said Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar during a nationally televised news conference in Orlando.
“The death of … Champion is nothing short of an American tragedy,” Lamar told reporters. “While Robert and his family were sacrificing and preparing for his entrance into college, an event that should have assured him a bright and meaningful future, no one could have expected that his college experience would include being pummeled to death.”
Lamar added: “An event that some early on mistakenly called a rite of passage. I have come to believe that hazing is a term for bullying. It’s bullying with a tradition — a tradition that we cannot bear in America.”
Champion died Nov. 19 after a violent hazing episode in which several band members physically assaulted him on a parked charter bus outside the Florida Classic football game in Orlando. Authorities said they would not release the names of all those charged until each was in custody. Two — Caleb Jackson, 23, and Rikki Willis, 24 — were jailed in Leon County late Wednesday.