The cameras were in no way secret, and yet the brothers continued to engage in a variety of forbidden acts, including hazing, in clear view of them. His face is bloody and his breathing is labored. He fell 15 feet down a flight of steps, hair-first, going to need help.” (Rizzo, who was not charged with any crimes, told the police that he later advocated for calling an ambulance.). One of the mansions he built for himself in California, in the San Gabriel Valley, has an underground firing range; a million-gallon, temperature-controlled trout pond; an oak-paneled elevator; and “Venetian plaster masterpieces throughout.” Similarly, his vision for the refurbished Beta house was like something out of a movie about college. The prohibition of underage drinking will be strongly enforced. They come across Tim’s shoes, and realize that Tim must still be somewhere in the house, so they look for him. The strict policies promote a culture of secrecy, and when something really does go terribly wrong, the young men usually start scrambling to protect themselves. Later, he will tell the police that he saw Tim “facedown, at the bottom of the steps.” Jonah Neuman will tell the police that he saw Tim lying facedown with his legs on the stairs. What Beta Theta Pi had done for him as a young man, he suggested, was allow him to make some poor decisions until he started to turn around and become the man he wanted to be. Kordel seemed rootless when I talked with him over the summer. A grand jury found no link between his death and the hazing he had endured. Kordel attended a majority-white high school, where he made good friends and had many caring teachers, and where he found a mentor in the football coach. “Am I just fighting for a bunch of idiots?” he asked. His fraternity brothers put him to bed, he survived the night, and the next morning they took him for medical care—at a privately owned urgent-care clinic instead of University Health Services, where hazing might have been suspected. Penn State stripped Beta Theta Pi of its status as a campus recognized fraternity Friday in reaction to the recent death of a sophomore pledge.. Two other brothers wrestle near the couch and end up slamming on top of Tim, whose spleen is still pouring blood into his abdomen. This is murder.”. Frat members told police and paramedics on Friday morning the teen plunged down the basement stairs the previous night, and that their call for help came about 12 hours after his fall, reports CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan. That he was not a scholar but a football coach and yet was the final authority on almost every aspect of Penn State life says a great deal about the institution. You can’t play beer pong in a fraternity house. His parents divorced, and he lived with his father and brother; by his own estimation, he “made mistakes” in high school. Is it time we reconsidered what we’re doing? He was really, really good at making people happy.”. But they do not use their many cellphones to call 911. Some fraternity members head off to class, and in the fullness of time they return. This time, when the brothers of the newly reconstituted Beta chapter reverted to type and started hazing, the national organization did not intervene. They made you stay up all night and played records until you went nuts, and you woke in the morning and all of a sudden they got you before a tribunal and question you as to whether you have the credentials to be a fraternity brother. The coroner ruled his death accidental. I thought he was going to ask me something, or tell me one last thing. The brothers put him on a couch, and Rizzo performs a sternum rub—a test for consciousness used by EMTs—but Tim does not respond. But when he visited, he was shocked—it was, he recalled, “repulsive,” and he felt compelled to bring his experience in “repositioning properties” to bear on 220 North Burrowes Road. I said it was a pity to come all that way and not see the beach, so I would pick him up and take him to breakfast at Hermosa Beach, where he couldn’t shake me if my questions got too difficult. He was coming out to show that he had nothing to hide, but I knew he was not prepared for the hardest question I had for him, which I would return to over and over again: Why hadn’t Beta Theta Pi taken the simple, obvious steps that would have saved Tim Piazza’s life? The first few years typically go very well. Tim is dying inside the Beta house, steps away from the door he has been trying all night to open. And then I realized why Horras was able to see the torture and death of a 19-year-old kid as a golden opportunity: He didn’t really know that much about it. Timothy Piazza just recently joined the ranks of the“Men of Principle at Beta Theta Pi fraternity. In an emergency, when the police and an ambulance show up, the national organization will easily be able to prove that the members were in violation of its policies, and will therefore be able to cut them loose and deny them any of the benefits—including the payment of attorneys’ fees and damages—that come with the fraternity insurance the members themselves have paid for. At 3:49 a.m., Tim wakes up and struggles to his knees, cradling his head in his hands; he falls again to the hardwood floor. The parents of Timothy Piazza, the Penn State student who suffered fatal injuries inside a fraternity house in 2017 has reached a settlement with Beta Theta Pi fraternity. There is the horrifying telephone call, the race to the hospital, the stunned inability to comprehend basic information. Precious minutes and hours passed by, the difference between Tim’s life and death. But he is resilient, incredibly so. If they screwed up and got caught—well, that was on them. Four of the brothers carry Tim up the stairs. And then Tim tries to do something that could have saved his life. Their house, where Tim had grown up since the age of six months, was silent and immaculate. He told police that his fraternity had kept a secret Facebook page where members could post naked pictures of female students, some of whom were unconscious or being sexually assaulted. Fraternity brothers with garbage bags appear in the footage and start cleaning up the evidence. At home in New Jersey, his parents are sleeping. Vivenzio is currently suing both the fraternity and the university. Penn State suspended Phi Sigma Kappa’s charter for six years. “He remembered it just the way we did.” I now have a copy of that letter, and have spoken with the parent who wrote it; the account verifies everything the Piazzas remember and identifies the man who made the remarks as the university’s then-head of Greek life, Roy Baker. Daniel Casey comes into the room, looks at Tim, and slaps him in the face three times. When he was a little boy, he used to make people laugh because he got so frustrated with board games; he didn’t like playing those games, with their rules and tricks. That was hazing. It contracted with an outside security firm called St. Moritz. It later was revealed that … Death at a Penn State Fraternity - The Atlantic Death at a Penn State Fraternity Tim Piazza fought for his life for 12 hours before his Beta Theta Pi brothers called 911. Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the our 24/7 digital news network. Investigators are now looking for video evidence from inside the house. “I just hope none of us get into any lawsuits.”, “You think they are going to sue?” asked the brother, to which Young responded in a way that is chilling and that reveals a sophisticated knowledge of how such events play out: “It depends if they want to go through with it, or just distance themselves from us all together.”. If anything goes wrong with the pledges this semester then both of us are fucked.” He wasn’t suggesting they scrap hazing; he was reminding his subordinate that they had better not get caught doing it. Luke Visser, Joseph Sala, Joshua Kurczewski and Michael Bonattuci, former members of the Penn State chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, were sentenced on Tuesday by a … Tim Piazza wasn't supposed to die after a night at the Penn State Beta Theta Pi house. Tellingly, his fraternity was the same one that had been investigated after the five injured students went to Health Services 18 years earlier. “But he said, ‘I think I can afford to take my mother out to dinner.’ ”. He had been a star fullback in the early years of the Joe Paterno era, and gone on to become a billionaire real-estate investor and builder in California who remembered the Beta house as a central part of his college experience. Greg Rizzo clearly hears the fall and goes to the top of the steps to see what’s happened. “And they stole my faith.”. Who were these checkers, and how could they have missed the obvious violations that were taking place? Yet Vivenzio claims that Student Conduct did not investigate his allegations until he went to the police. Finally he said, with consummate feeling, “I’m fucking mad that that stuff is going on.”. I wanted to learn more about the cameras, and also about something called the “Shep Test,” so in June I called the North-American Interfraternity Conference, the trade association for social fraternities, which is located in Carmel, Indiana. To the extent that this is true, the person responsible is Joe Paterno. Penn State University told “CBS This Morning” their office in charge of the school’s fraternities has told the chapter it cannot host or participate in campus activities. An hour later, he manages to stand up, and staggers toward the front door, but within seconds he falls, headfirst, into an iron railing and then onto the floor. Brothers try to prop Tim up on the couch and dress him, but his limbs are too stiff and they can’t do it. But the brother encourages him to stand and walks him through the dining room and kitchen and back to the living room, where he sits down again on the couch. I thought about the summons he had received from the police department, about the day he had gone there, alone, a 19-year-old black kid in a county that is 90 percent white, to report on events surrounding the death of a white college student. I didn’t even know where I was. In the courtroom, the 16 fraternity brothers (two had waived their right to a preliminary hearing) backslapped one another and exchanged fist bumps. He was also a proud Delta Kappa Epsilon man and a tremendous booster of the fraternity system, and—as was typical for men of his generation—he understood hazing to be an accepted part of Greek life. The house where he was so savagely treated had been outfitted with security cameras, which recorded his long ordeal. On the security footage, a fraternity brother named Luke Visser points toward the stairs in an agitated way. This is what the past nine months have been like for the Piazzas as they try to get justice for their son: simple requests for information and action on their part, the strangled responses of a massive, inelegant, and transparently self-protecting bureaucracy in reply. Piazza was a 19-year-old sophomore engineering student at Pennsylvania State University. Jud Horras is a young man with a wife and a small son and daughter, and if Tim Piazza were alive and well—if he’d gone home to his apartment that night plastered but with a story to tell—I would have fully enjoyed my time with him. He stands once again and tries to get to the door. Still, 14 of the Beta brothers will face a total of 328 criminal charges—jury selection is scheduled to begin in December—and the Piazzas also plan to file a civil suit after the trial ends. In many regards, our conversation was like other such conversations I’ve had with fraternity executives over the years. Two brothers sit on Tim’s legs to keep him from moving. At my puzzled look, he explained that there were deer in the area and that they were hard to see at night. At the end of the Piazza presentment, the grand jury issues a stunning condemnation of Penn State’s fraternity culture: The grand jury is now investigating the broader issue of hazing at Penn State and may recommend criminal charges. Rizzo sends a group text: “Tim Piazza might actually be a problem. “Yes it will get worse,” she wrote. The public often interprets the “closing” of a fraternity as a decisive action. His only hope is to get out of this house, but he falls headfirst once again. But Piazza was not found at the foot of the stairs. Perhaps he is hoping that this door will be easier to open; perhaps he is hoping that it also leads out of the fraternity house. Copyright © 2021 CBS Interactive Inc.All rights reserved. On the night of February 2, 2017, while undergoing hazingactivities for the fraternity, Piazza, on an essentially empty stomach, drank large amounts of alcohol in a short time as part of an obstacle course called "The Gauntlet", which required each pledge to drink from a bottle of vodka, drink a beer, and finally drink from a bag of wine. “One kid asks where the pledges were, and the other one says they’re waiting in the boiler room after the Shep Test.”. At about 3 p.m. on Friday, February 3, Tim Piazza, a sophomore at Penn State University, arrived at Hershey Medical Center by helicopter. The sophomore partied inside the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday night. He is up against a university that has allowed hazing to go on for decades; a fraternity chapter that has hazed pledge classes at least twice in the previous 12 months; a set of rules that so harshly punishes hazing that the brothers will think it better to take a chance with his life than to face the consequences of having made him get drunk; and a “checking system” provided by a security firm that is, in many regards, a sham. And then, at about 10 a.m., a brother named Kyle Pecci (who was not charged) arrives and asks a pledge, Daniel Erickson (who was also not charged), a question that seems to both of them a casual one: Whatever happened to that pledge who fell down the stairs at the party? The heavy backpack is still strapped to him. This was an outfit in which a warm day might bring the sight of a brother sitting, with his pants pulled down, on the edge of a balcony, while a pledge stood on the ground below, his hands raised as though to catch the other man’s feces. By summer’s end he had been accepted at Rutgers, and had taken out student loans to pay his tuition. The grieving parents will appear on television. But in the 1980s, parents of injured and dead children began to fight back: They sued the organizations and began to recover huge sums in damages. But there really wasn’t anything at all about the Shep Test—except for this, from the national Beta organization: It seemed to me—based on the fact that I could find nothing else about it—that the Shep Test had truly been eliminated. Indeed, not two years after the Penn State chapter of Beta Theta Pi reopened in the fall of 2010, it won a Sisson Award, one of the highest honors the national fraternity can confer. The parents of Timothy Piazza, the Penn State student who died while pledging for the fraternity Beta Theta Pi, have reached a settlement with the fraternity's national organization over the 19-year-old's death in 2017. By Valerie Waltz, WPMT. Although the clubs started opening their ranks to African Americans in the 1950s and ’60s, they have few black members; nationally, only 3 percent of Beta Theta Pi’s members are black, for example. The executives realized that even if they couldn’t change members’ behavior, they had to indemnify themselves against it, which they did by creating an incredibly strict set of rules, named for a term of art in the insurance industry: risk-management policies. But it is also true that he is setting off to get jumped by a gang, and he won’t survive. They attended every day of the pretrial hearings that determined which of the charges against the brothers would go to trial, a grueling process that—with its many continuances and breaks—lasted the entire summer. The forensic pathologist will later describe his level of intoxication at this point as “stuporous.” He is staggering, hunched over, and he sits down heavily on the couch and doesn’t want to get up. 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