Fifteen former Miami University Delta Tau Delta (Delts) fraternity brothers stood before a judge for the first time Tuesday morning in relation to last semester’s hazing incident.
There are 18 former Delt brothers facing a total of 68 misdemeanor assault and hazing charges for hazing a new member, who said he was blindfolded, kicked, punched, spit on, forced to drink alcohol and smoke weed while being hit with a paddle on his buttocks multiple times.
Fourteen of the 15 former Delts pled not guilty to their respective charges at the Oxford Courthouse.
James MacKeagan, the only former Delt who did not enter a plea, came to court without a lawyer. His case was pushed back to Dec. 10.
Jonathan Rauch, the only other Delt who did not bring a lawyer to court with him, declined to submit a time waiver, which waives his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. Instead of having a second hearing during the week of Dec. 8 — the same week as his former brothers — Rauch’s case will go to trial on Dec. 2.
Visiting Judge Thomas Hanna, who retired from the Kettering Municipal Court, presided over the hearings because all three Butler County judges who regularly conduct cases at the Oxford Courthouse recused themselves from the cases.
Judge Robert Lyons said he is employed by the same law firm as one of the Delts’ attorneys. Judges Daniel Haughey and Kevin McDonough could not be reached for comment. Court documents say the judges have “good cause” for removing themselves but do not specify why they recused themselves.
During the hearings, prosecutor Willa Concannon brought up the fact that multiple defendants were being represented by the law firm Rittgers and Rittgers, which also represented a different defendant during Miami’s conduct process.
Concannon asked Hanna to conduct a formal inquiry into the potential conflict of interest, explaining that the attorneys might know information about another defendant in the case, which might affect their ability to represent their clients.
Hanna said he would further research the matter.
Three of the Delts previously charged — Nicholas Carmichael, Jason Londa and Grady McMichen — didn’t appear in court on Tuesday. Carmichael’s attorney had a time conflict, and McMichen’s attorney said he needed more time to review the case. Both will have their first hearing on Dec. 10.
It’s unclear why Londa wasn’t at court, but his case was also pushed back until Dec. 10.
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The former Delts were not required to pay bond, based on the condition they show up to their future court hearings. The next hearings will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10, and Friday, Dec. 13 in the Oxford Courthouse.