After reading your article about the sentencing of several former members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity at Miami of Ohio for hazing with respect to Tyler Perino, I was extremely disturbed and frustrated.
First and foremost, I would like to commend Tyler and his family for standing up and calling out his abusers and being present and aggressive in his pursuit of justice in the criminal hazing behavior at Miami. I would also like to thank the Oxford District Attorney for bringing forward these important charges, despite the fact that no one lost their life.
We need other DA’s throughout the country to wake up and follow this lead.
Finally, I would also like to express my deep disappointment in Judge Thomas Hanna and the court system in Oxford, Ohio for this failure to properly do its job and meaningfully sentence all those involved in the criminal behavior. You had a victim and witness who survived, who was able to provide great detail of what went on, and a number of fraternity members who engaged in criminal activity and pled guilty to it. The fact that they plead guilty does not make it okay, and there were several other appropriate charges, such as assault, which were wrongfully dismissed.
I believe the judge wrongfully took into account that this was a first offense for many of the perpetrators. Having been around many universities and fraternities over the past three years, I have learned these are rarely first-time offenses. It just happens to be the first time they were caught. This behavior was likely engaged in many times before and throughout the pledge process, impacting many pledges, year after year, by these individuals. It was intentional, planned, premeditated and cruel behavior.
Even the defendants acknowledged that their behavior was inappropriate. If this was not in a fraternity situation, and the defendants were not among the privileged, the charges and sentencing would be much harsher. Tyler was lucky in that he survived and was able to talk about it. Hazing is a game of Russian roulette and Tyler was fortunate in that he did not “catch the bullet“ unlike so many other young men and women who lost their lives to hazing, including my son, Tim Piazza.
Instead, Tyler was fortunately a victim of a misfire. Things could have easily turned out dreadfully worse. Nonetheless, he will be scarred by it for the rest of his life, while the perpetrators go on with their lives like nothing ever happened. The judge and court’s decision to pass on jail time and reduce the already-insufficient fines is irresponsible, weak, cowardly and a clear indication that he either does not understand the severity of hazing or endorses it, both of which are extremely disappointing to someone whose son died as a result of irresponsible and reckless hazing.
An improper message was sent to the rest of Greek life at Miami and to others throughout Ohio and the country. The court and judge had an opportunity to make a statement, and they failed. I am optimistic that the lawmakers in Ohio will pass the more-severe felony hazing legislation that is currently before them. This way, judges will not be able to hide behind the weak laws that currently exist.
I, again, would like to commend Tyler Perino and his family for trying to make a difference for others and for trying to prevent this type of criminal behavior from happening at other organizations and universities in the future. They did their part. I implore law enforcement and the justice system to do the same.
Father of Tim Piazza from Penn State University (deceased February 2017 - Beta Theta Pi)