Blog : Fraternities

Michael Deng Case: Fraternity, Four Men to be Sentenced in Hazing Death

Doug Fierberg, an attorney for Deng’s family, said prosecutors in the Piazza case could learn from the outcome of the Deng case and Pi Delta Psi case sentencing.
“These are two of the higher-profile circumstances involving the prosecution of hazing,” said Fierberg. Prosecutors in the Piazza case, he said, “might as well learn” from the outcome of the Deng case.

Fierberg said he expects the Deng case “will help clarify” some things ahead of the Piazza case and could set “a number of precedents.”

Read more on CNN.

National Hazing Prevention Week

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month (NCSAM).

NCSAM received the unanimous support of congress in 2008. Each September, the Clery Center partners with colleges, universities, and other organizations to offer campus safety resources, programming, and ideas.

Although headlines capture the best- and worst- of the field, there’s one thing the Clery Center knows to be true: people don’t function well in fear; individuals make the best decisions when they are informed, offered support, and are confident in their knowledge and skills.

Keeping this in mind, the Clery Center is continuing its practice of dedicating National Campus Safety Awareness month to providing professional development resources and opportunities that can help practitioners move forward on their own campuses.

In accordance with National Hazing Prevention Week, the Clery Center is featuring resources (below) for general audiences (students, parents, etc.) who wish to understand and communicate effectively about hazing, and learn strategies for bystander intervention.

Show the Clery Center what you’re doing for #NCSAM2016 and let’s continue #movingforwardtogether!

Fierberg Comments on DA’s Decision to Drop Two High-Profile Campus Rape Cases

Fulton County District Attorney will not bring charges against the assailants involved in campus rape cases at Morehouse College and Georgia Tech.

The three Morehouse basketball players accused of sexually assaulting a Spelman College student in March 2013 were arrested in April 2013 on various assault and rape charges, released on bond, and suspended from Morehouse while Howard’s office investigated. In the second case, Caleb Ackerman, the Georgia Tech student accused of raping an Agnes Scott College Student at his fraternity house in January 2014, was expelled from the university.

campus rape case, campus rape, campus rape cases, doug fierberg, douglas fierberg, the fierberg national law group, school violence law, campus rape attorney, campus rape lawyer
Howard (pictured above) will not bring charges in two high-profile campus rape cases. Kent D. Johnson/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia Tech case garnered national attention, in part, because Ackerman’s fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, drew public scrutiny after an email surfaced from one member instructing others how to lure “rapebait” by plying female guests with alcohol.

When the first victim came forward with her allegations of rape after drinking alcohol provided by Phi Kappa Tau members at their fraternity house, another Agnes Scott student followed suit, telling Georgia Tech police Ackerman had raped her in 2012 at an event held at the fraternity house. While the second women did not wish to pursue criminal charges against Ackerman, both women sued the fraternity, saying it “promoted a rampant culture of rape and misogyny.”

Attorney Douglas Fierberg, represented both women in the civil case against the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity that settled about a year ago for an undisclosed sum. Fierberg says Howard’s delay was unwarranted.

“We were able to bring a (civil) case forward, prove what needed to be proven and reach a resolution long before the state decided to move or not,” Fierberg said.

The long delay of Paul Howard’s decision – over two years – prompted complaints that both the accused and the victims were left in limbo.

“No prosecution makes no sense,” said Fierberg.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Fraternity Hazing and Sexual Assault BBC Documentary Features The Fierberg National Law Group

Frat Boys: Inside America’s Fraternities, aired last week to audiences across Europe, garnering rave reviews.

The hour long BBC expose dives deeper into U.S. Fraternity life, narrowly debunking and greatly personifying fraternity stereotypes that exist within the minds of Europeans, and let’s be honest, (non-Greek) Americans alike.

In the midst of toga parties and binge drinking, Douglas Fierberg and Cari Simon of The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law cast a sobering light onto the common practices of hazing and sexual assault that run rampant within fraternity culture.  While our client, Terrance Bennett, bravely chronicles his experience as a Tau Kappa Epsilon (“TKE”) pledge, recalling in horrifying detail the hazing practices that led him to be hospitalized for weeks and nearly cost him his life.

“The film highlighted two disturbing statistics: that frat member students were three times more likely to commit sexual assault than non-members, and that violent initiations, known as “hazing”, have been responsible for a staggering 22 deaths in just eight years. More sinister still is that American universities have been complicit in keeping such occurrences out of the courts, and out of the news, because they receive 75 per cent of donations from fraternity members.”The Telegraph

The family of Harrison Kowiak, a 19 year old co-ed who died trying to join a fraternity, also shares their son’s story in the documentary. A football accident, his family was told, initially, took Harrison’s life.  Though, after commissioning their own investigation, Harrison’s family discovered he’d been killed during a hazing ritual in which pledge’s are taken to a desolate field in the black of night and told to capture a sacred rock while being tackled from all sides by fraternity brothers dressed in dark clothing.

Frat Boys: Inside America’s Fraternities will air in the United States Fall 2016.

Click here to read more about the BBC documentary as told by the British national daily newspaper, The Guardian.

Nicholas Holt, Sophomore at Stony Brook University, Tragically Died After Frat Party

Police are investigating the death of a Stony Brook University student following a party at an off-campus fraternity house last week.

Nicholas Holt, stony brook university, alpha phi delta, fraternity, death
Stony Brook University sophomore, Nicholas Holt, tragically loses his life after attending Alpha Phi Delta fraternity party

The student, Nicholas Holt, was a freshman at Stony Brook University and member of the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity, according to an article published by NBC 4 New York.

Stony Brook University has reported to NBC 4 New York that Nicholas lost his life several days after he was taken from the party to Mather Hospital.

Having represented victims of similar tragedies associated with fraternities, our hope is that Nicholas Holt’s family finds answers related to how this terrible loss transpired.

Our thoughts are with Nicholas’ family and community during this extremely difficult time.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Kansas State University Will Not Investigate Rapes At Its Fraternities

Attorney Cari Simon of The Fierberg National Law Group files Title IX lawsuits Against Kansas State University on behalf of two sexual assault victims.

kansas state university, title ix, sexual assault, sexual assault victims, rape, fraternity rape
Sara Weckhorst, left, and Tessa Farmer, juniors at Kansas State University, have filed lawsuits claiming the the university mishandled their accusations of rape.

The official press release reads as follows:

Kansas State University Will Not Investigate Rapes at its Fraternities

Two sexual assault victims file Title IX lawsuits as University takes no action

MANHATTAN, KANSAS – Two sexual assault victims filed federal lawsuits today alleging Kansas State University (“K-State”) violated their rights under Title IX by failing to investigate their reports of rape by K-State students. Despite the fact the assailants and victims are all students at K-State and the assaults happened at events hosted by University-recognized fraternities and at fraternity houses, K-State has refused to investigate because the rapes happened “off campus.”

As universities across the country grapple with the epidemic of sexual assault on campus and how best to respond to guarantee equal and safe access to education for all students, K-State has taken an unlawful approach:  “deliberate indifference,” according to the complaints.  The plaintiffs, represented by attorney Cari Simon of The Fierberg National Law Group, bring action to vindicate their statutory rights to equal educational opportunities, rights which K-State violated and will continue to violate absent relief from federal court.

“Kansas State’s interpretation of its sexual assault policy deliberately turns its back on one of the most dangerous aspects of its campus life, conveniently writing fraternity rape out of its responsibility,” said attorney Cari Simon of The Fierberg National Law Group who represents the two victims. According to the complaints, despite months of continued pleading from the victims and their families to investigate the rapes and remove the student-assailants from campus, the victims have been left to languish on campus in fear and under the constant risk of encountering the unpunished and perhaps emboldened assailants.

Sara, one of the plaintiffs, was raped by two K-State students during a fraternity event and again later at the fraternity house. Sara reported the assaults immediately. Over a dozen students witnessed the first assault, some taking photographs and shared on social media.  Tessa, the second plaintiff, was raped by an unknown K-State student at a K-State fraternity house, and she also reported the assault immediately. K-State refused to investigate either of the reports of rape because the assaults occurred off campus.

K-State is under federal Title IX investigation by the United States Department of Education because of its failed response the rapes of these two young women, and likely other fraternity rape victims.

“K-State is sending the message it will not hold rapists accountable as long as they lure their victims off campus. Until this practice is changed, the University is emboldening would-be rapists. Sara and Tessa are filing these lawsuits because they do not want this to happen to anyone else.” Ms. Simon said.

“K-State needs to put its students’ safety first,” said Dustin Van Dyk, co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “K-State has knowledge of incidents of sexual assault at its fraternities far beyond those of Sara and Tessa, yet it does not warn victims of those dangers or take action when they report.”

About Cari Simon & The Fierberg National Law Group:

The Fierberg National Law Group represents victims of sexual violence throughout the entire college or high school disciplinary process and judicial hearings, and civil litigation ensuring that their Title IX rights are protected and that perpetrators are held responsible to the fullest extent of the law.  The national Title IX movement expertise of Cari Simon paired with the experience of Doug Fierberg in the field of school and fraternity violence make the duo uniquely effective advocates for people who have suffered rape or sexual assault in schools, universities, fraternities, and sororities.

To read coverage of the ongoing suit as reported by The New York Times click here.

‘H A Z E’ Director Consulted with Doug Fierberg During Making Of The Award Winning Film

‘H A Z E’ is a sobering, realistic portrait of what goes on behind fraternity house walls.

Burkman lifts the curtain on fraternity hazing culture designed to instill loyalty while being secretive and emotionally, physically, and morally challenging.

Based on the experiences of Burkman and others, the film draws similarities to Cal Poly freshman Carson Starky’s alcohol related death in 2008 during a fraternity hazing party. 

Burkman also consulted with Doug Fierberg, one of the few attorneys in the United States who specializes in representing hazing victim and their families, to gain a wider perspective on the countless tragedies that have occurred nationwide as a result of fraternity hazing activities.

“By watching the film, the audience can identify with the experience, the emotional ride,” Burkman tells The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, “The byproduct is to educate and help build awareness.”

HAZE has been entered into eight film festivals and won “Best Film” at three of the four events where it has been screened thus far, including DC Independent Film Festival, Soma Film Festival, and Sidewalk Film Festival.

The film is set to be screened at the SLO film festival on March 30th and April 1st.

Click here to learn more about the film and its upcoming screenings.

Doug Fierberg Comments On Death Of Willem Golden In delawareonline Article

Willem Golden passed away after falling from the roof at University of Delaware Sigma Pi fraternity house.

With any devastating circumstance, questions mount – how does a community prevent future tragedies and who should be held responsible?

willem golden, university of delaware, fatal fall, rooftop fall, death, sigma pi, fraternity
The rooftop Willem Golden fatally fell from, at 153 W. Main St. in Newark. Xerxes Wilson/The News Journal

University of Delaware’s unofficial Sigma Pi house offers a text-book example of potential code violations, including broken glass, dangling electric cords, and a barbecue grill strapped outside a third-story window. And while over 1,000 fraternities in the International Conference have gone dry, Sigma Pi isn’t one of them.

Douglas Fierberg – a nationally acclaimed wrongful death attorney representing clients who have sued universities, national fraternities and local chapter members for alcohol-related student deaths – tells delawareonline: 

“Even if a party is held at an off-campus unofficial fraternity house, the hosts and the organization may still be liable. These organizations need to be rendered safe, there is no excuse for not intervening.”

Willem Golden, memorial, skidmore college, fraternity death, fraternity hazing, fraternity hazing death, fatal hazing, hazing lawyer, hazing attorney, wrongful death lawyer, wrongful death attorney, doug fierberg, douglas fierberg, the fierberg national law group
Students, faculty and staff gather at Skidmore College at a memorial for Willem Golden. Eric Jenks/Skidmore College

Fierberg represented the family of Brett Griffen, the University of Delaware student who died as a result of alcohol poisoning in 2008. The Griffen’s brought suit against University of Delaware calling for its Greek life websites to list all violations against fraternities and sororities.  Despite the attainment of policy change at University of Delaware, Fierberg urges families to remain cautious:

“Colleges and universities continue to publish vague information – if they publish it at all – about fraternity interactions, including deadly hazing rituals and sexual assaults. We’re still facing significant problems because most universities refuse to tell the truth about student deaths at Greek organizations.”

School Violence Law offers our deepest condolences to the Golden family during this difficult time.

Click here to read the delawareonline article in its entirety.

Baylor University Fraternity President Accused of Rape

Phi Delta Theta chapter president at Baylor University charged with sexual assault.

sexual assault, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, campus sexual assault, title ix, title ix attorney, title ix lawyer, sexual assault lawyer, sexual assault attorney, cari simon, douglas fierberg, school violence law, the fierberg national law group
Anderson charged with sexual assault at BU frat party. 

Jacob Anderson turned himself into police on March 3rd, twelve days after a warrant was issued for the alleged rape of a female co-ed at a fraternity party in South Waco, Texas.

In a statement released by Waco police, “While at a party, the female was handed a drink of some kind of punch and told to drink it. Shortly after she became very disoriented, was taken outside by the suspect [Anderson] and forcibly sexually assaulted.”

Having represented victims of sexual assault at fraternities, our hope is that the victim in this case, and her family, find all of the answers related to how such an egregious crime happened and, in the end, hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable to the full extent of the laws.

Read the New York Daily News article here.

Cornell Psi Upsilon Fraternity President Accused of Rape

Wolfgang Ballinger charged with alleged rape at Cornell University.

wolfgang ballinger, cornell university, fraternity president

The alleged rape took place in Ballinger’s bedroom lcoated at the Psi Upsilon fraternity chapter house in Ithaca, New York. 

Wolfgang Ballinger, president of Cornell University’s Psi Upsilon chapter, turned himself in to police Feb. 4 after a campus-wide crime alert had been posted days earlier informing students of the alleged rape, according to a university statement.

Having represented one victim of sexual assault at the Psi U chapter house at Wesleyan University, our hope is that the victim in this case, and her family, find all of the answers related to how such an egregious crime happened and, in the end, hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable to the full extent of the laws.

Read The Entire ABC News Article Here