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A Washington state prosecutor slapped 15 current and former frat boys with criminal charges related to the 2019 drinking death of a 19-year-old pledge.
Washington State University freshman Sam Martinez died Nov. 12, 2019 at the off-campus Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house after allegedly splitting a half-gallon of rum with another pledge as part of an initiation event.
Each of the accused is charged with supplying liquor to one or more pledges, a gross misdemeanor that comes with up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine, according to a press release from the Whitman County Prosecutor’s Office.
Martinez’s family members said they were “deeply disappointed” that none of the frat brothers faced hazing charges as the statute of limitations has passed.
The possible punishment didn’t fit the crime, they said in a statement posted to Twitter by Mark Hanrahan of local TV station KREM.
“That is insulting compared to the devastating consequences of their actions, which directly led to Sam’s death, and the loss we are living with for the rest of our lives,” the statement said.
Martinez had measured a 3.72 blood alcohol content, his family said. The legal BAC in Washington is 0.08 and 0.02 for people under 21.
“While the charges may lead to some level of accountability, this is not justice,” the family said. “This does not bring us closure.”
“A boy dies. His family and friends are shattered,” the statement went on.
“Promises of reform are made, and broken. We say enough. It is time for universities, fraternities and policymakers to enact meaningful reforms that end this toxic culture.”
The family said the Greek Life system puts “untrained, ill-equipped 20-somethings in charge of teenagers away from home for the first time.”
“Universities and the national fraternity corporations that promote and profit from fraternities must finally be held to account for failing the young men in their care and the families who entrust their sons to them,” the statement said.
Martinez’s family is suing the fraternity and university for wrongful death, USA TODAY reported.
Pullman police had recommended hazing charges for two ATO members as a result of the investigation, The Spokesman Review reported. But by the time the recommendation was turned over to the prosecutor’s office in February, the statute of limitations on hazing had already passed, The Review said.
Martinez was found unresponsive early in the morning after a night of drinking, media reported at the time. Members of the frat performed CPR, but Martinez was pronounced dead when medics arrived.
Greek life officials suspended social events for fraternities and sororities in the wake of his death.
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