The judge in the criminal case against the men charged with Andrew Coffey's hazing death has dismissed one of the charges. Specifically, he ruled that while the State could continue prosecuting misdemeanor hazing, causation was "too thin" to let the felony charge proceed.
The judge wrote that the State, led by State Attorney Jack Campbell, "generalized the actions of the four" defendants, arguing that the defendants weren't sufficiently connected to the actions that led directly to Andrew's death. Mr. Campbell has already filed an appeal with the First District Court of Appeals. This will provide an opportunity to clarify how felony hazing will be charged.
History Is Repeating Itself
"We know that some of the others are trying to blame Andrew for what happened, and that's sickening," Attorney David Bianchi said. "It reminds me of a sexual assault case—when women come forward to try to report a sexual assault, the first thing the defense lawyers do is they try to blame the victim."
In the embedded video, Hazing Attorney David Bianchi discusses why this case is not a simple matter of "accidental" death—the sequence of hazing events that killed Andrew Coffey is a ritual, a well-orchestrated form of indoctrination and mistreatment. It has killed young men before, and if we're not careful, it will rob another young man of his future.
Here are the last words on the matter from Attorney David Bianchi:
"Today the judge dismissed just one of the two criminal charges pending against those responsible for the hazing death of Andrew Coffey. He refused to dismiss the misdemeanor hazing charges. The State Attorney has already filed an appeal and we will soon have a definitive answer from a Florida appellate court on exactly what it takes to be guilty of felony hazing in our state," he said. "In the meantime, every fraternity and sorority member needs to understand that if you haze pledges and a pledge dies or is seriously injured you will be criminally prosecuted and sued civilly. Should there be any doubt about that, just ask the 15 defendants that we sued as a result of the death of Andrew Coffey. It is not something any college student should want to have happen to them."
Read the original story as reported by the Tallahassee Democrat and the report from WCTV.