8 arrested in fraternity pledge’s alcohol-poisoning death, says police

Written By: Eduardo Medina © 2021 The New York Times Company The New York Times
New York Published: Sep 26, 2021, 03:25 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( ANI )

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The eight arrested face charges of unlawful hazing of a student, the police in Richmond, Virginia, said in a statement. Three of them face an additional charge of buying and giving alcohol to a minor

Eight people were arrested and three others indicted Friday after an investigation into the death of Adam Oakes, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University who died in February from alcohol poisoning at a fraternity party, authorities said.

The eight arrested face charges of unlawful hazing of a student, the police in Richmond, Virginia, said in a statement. Three of them face an additional charge of buying and giving alcohol to a minor.

According to Oakes’ family, the young man’s death, which drew national attention and renewed questions about hazing in Greek organisations across the country, occurred at an off-campus party Feb. 26 at the Delta Chi fraternity house, where he was given a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and told to drink it.

Oakes, 19, was found dead the next morning by Richmond police, authorities said.

Courtney White, Oakes’ cousin, said Saturday that although the family was feeling “a little bit of relief” because the case was moving forward, it was still painful to know that nothing, including the charges, was “going to bring him back.”

“A lot of people are saying that these boys are just boys,” White said. “But the fact is that Adam was just a boy, too, and they took full advantage of him. And had any one of them stepped up and actually acted like a man and called for help, Adam would still be here.”

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The family said on Facebook that they were “grateful for some measure of justice these charges and arrests may produce, as well as the protection from hazing they may give young, impressionable college students.”

“The past 7 months have been agonizing for our family,” they wrote. “This is the first time these young men have been held accountable for their historically toxic and destructive traditions, manipulation of the VCU disciplinary systems, and for Adam’s death.”

Oakes’ family said that all of those arrested were current or former students at VCU.

The police named those arrested as Benjamin Corado, Quinn Kuby, Riley McDaniel, Alessandro Medina-Villanueva, Jason Mulgrew, Christian Rohrbach, Colin Tran and Enayat Sheikhzad. They range in age from 19 to 22.

Fraternity organizations have been under intense scrutiny in recent years, following high-profile cases that have drawn the ire of anti-hazing activists and victims’ loved ones who say that the culture of Greek life is dangerous and shrouded in secrecy.

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