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Hazing Incident Leads to Criminal Charges - Is This A New Policy Of Penn State?

Posted Scott B. Cooper on Aug 08, 2012 in Personal Injury

Below is an article appearing in today's Centre Daily News on criminal charges filed as a result of a hazing incident last Spring.  Do you think the charges are warranted?  Is this a sign that Penn State has learned from the Sandusky scandal?

By Matt Carroll — State College - Centre Daily Times

UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State police have filed charges against three women for the assault of a former university student during an alleged hazing incident.Bianca Jeanty, 21, of Maplewood, N.J., Hanif Johnson, 22, of Harrisburg, and Felicia Ragsdale, 22, of State College, face misdemeanor charges of simple assault and conspiracy.In a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, police said the three repeatedly assaulted Asya Trowell in early April, injuring the woman, who was then a freshman at Penn State.

Trowell told police the attacks were part of a hazing ritual she endured while pledging Omega Essence, a “little sisters” group with the fraternity Omega Psi Phi — which is an unrecognized student organization on the Penn State campus.In addition to the criminal charges, Jeanty, Johnson and Ragsdale were indefinitely expelled from Penn State, university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Tuesday.Degrees for Ragsdale and Johnson, who were set to graduate, have been withheld until their expulsions are lifted.

All three can petition for reinstatement after one year, but even then they are not guaranteed to return, Powers said.“We take the crimes of hazing and harassment seriously at Penn State,” she said in an email. “Hopefully we are sending a message that this will not be tolerated.”  After an investigation, Powers said Johnson, Jeanty and Ragsdale were found to have violated sections of the student code of conduct that deal with hazing/abuse/endangerment and harassment. Johnson was also found guilty of providing false information.Trowell first came forward April 9, about a week after the alleged assault, and told police she was punched and slapped to the point where she had two black eyes and was bleeding from the nose, according to her attorney, Scott Cooper, and the account she gave to university police.

According to the criminal complaint and the initial police report, Trowell said she was repeatedly slapped in the face, neck, body and legs with a wet and a dry washcloth, and was forced to eat mayonnaise, hot sauce and spices at Ragsdale’s home over a five-hour period late April 2 into early April 3 by the three women. The next night she was taken to another residence, where she was repeatedly slapped, punched and kicked in the head, neck, body and legs by Jeanty and Ragsdale.

Police said in the papers that Jeanty admitted to officers that she, Ragsdale and Johnson assaulted Trowell.Trowell’s attorney has said his client was badly injured as a result of those attacks.

He confirmed Tuesday she is still seeking medical treatment as a result.Cooper said Trowell was able to finish her Penn State classes via computer, and is now in the process of transferring to a new university.“Overall, she’s happy with the process — that the university is taking it seriously,” he said. “It’s bringing closure.”

Cooper, who previously called upon authorities to file serious charges in the case, said the university appears to be taking a stand.“Any hazing shouldn’t be tolerated,” he said. “Even more so in light of what’s been going on up there (Penn State). They are showing what may have gone on in the past will no longer be tolerated.”

In addition to the misdemeanor counts of simple assault and conspiracy, Jeanty, Johnson and Ragsdale were each charged with two summary counts of harassment.Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

If you have an injury or a loved one has suffered a personal injury or been in a Pennsylvania incident caused by the negligence, recklessness or intentional conduct of another contact Central Pennsylvania based Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers immediately who will answer any questions you may have about your rights after you or a loved one are the victim of injury or death caused by the negligence of another person or company.