On Tuesday, Blake Morsovillo—one of the participants in the hazing that left Daniel Santulli unable to walk, talk, or see—pled guilty to “supplying intoxicating liquor to a minor,” a misdemeanor, at Boone County Courthouse in Columbia, MO. Morsovillo received a one-year suspended sentence at Boone County Jail and two years of unsupervised probation, starting with a two-day shock detention.
Morsovillo was involved in what has been described as one of the most horrifying hazing incidents on record. Roughly two years ago, he was part of a group of fraternity members who compelled Daniel to consume an entire bottle of liquor by himself. Daniel was left on a couch suffering from acute alcohol poisoning while fraternity members opted to drive him to the hospital instead of calling 911.
This decision had devastating consequences.
Daniel suffered severe brain damage, leaving him blind, cognitively impaired, and partially paralyzed.
David Bianchi, a leading expert on hazing cases, has labeled it “the worst hazing incident” he has ever encountered. Morsovillo is the sixth defendant in the Santulli case to plead guilty, with his original felony charge downgraded to a misdemeanor as part of a deal with the prosecutor. Five more defendants await trial, with dates stretching from early December 2023 to January 2024. Morsovillo’s suspended sentence means that he may spend as little as two days in jail if he abides by the terms of his probation.
Are These Sentences Enough?
In an interview with KOMU 8 News, David Bianchi said,
“There’s been mixed emotions about whether or not these sentences are meaningful because Danny’s been sentenced to shock treatment for the next 50 years as a result of what happened to him.”
The sentencing in the last six cases has not been enough. The leniency contributes to an environment where hazing can flourish unchecked. Our society’s failure to appropriately punish hazing ensures such incidents continue. When fraternity members see that the worst outcome for forcing someone to drink a lethal amount of alcohol is a misdemeanor and a slap on the wrist, they’re not deterred.
Moreover, the minimal sentences—ranging from 2 to 30 days in jail—echo a disturbing perspective that hazing does not deserve severe punishment. This lukewarm response by the legal system only reinforces the perception that hazing isn’t a “real” crime, thus contributing to the cycle of reckless endangerment.
The colleges and universities where these incidents occur must also be held accountable. Expelling all students who plan or participate in hazing events would spur self-enforcement within fraternities and other student organizations. However, this is often not the case; educational institutions frequently settle for less stringent measures, failing to set an example that would discourage future harm.
The bottom line is clear: if we genuinely wish to prevent another tragedy like Daniel Santulli’s, we must overhaul how we approach hazing legally and institutionally. Sentencing needs to be harsher. Colleges need to adopt zero-tolerance policies. Until we as a society decide to make these changes, we are doing nothing less than allowing the next Daniel Santulli tragedy to occur.
Daniel’s life has been irrevocably altered, yet those responsible face only minimal consequences. This is a grave injustice that highlights the urgent need for systemic changes. We can—and must—do better.