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My Son or Daughter Was Hazed at College… Now What?

Hazing is a vicious cycle. 

Perpetrators are typically young men who went through similar types of hazing themselves. They might think they have to make it a little bit worse each year. Some don’t believe what they are doing is bad or even considered “hazing.” 

They are wrong – hazing has deadly consequences.

Unfortunately, far too often it takes the loss of a young life for laws to change. Collin’s Law is Ohio’s Anti-Hazing Act, enacted by Gov. Mike DeWine in 2021 after Collin Wiant and Stone Foltz each died as a result of hazing.

As the legal team for both Collin Wiant and Stone Foltz’s families, Cooper Elliott is grateful for this law. Hazing has no place in today’s society and we are determined to get justice for victims and their families.

Read on to learn more about what to do if you believe your child has been a victim of hazing at their educational institution.

What is considered hazing in Ohio?

Hazing has caused at least one death nationwide every year since 1969.

But Ohio, like many other states throughout the U.S., does have a law against hazing. After two students died in recent years due to college hazing rituals in Ohio – Collin Wiant in 2018, and Stone Foltz in 2021 – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Collin’s Law.

Our attorneys at Cooper Elliott have been honored to represent the grieving families of these young students, and it was the bravery and advocacy of these families that encouraged the governor to sign Collin’s Law in 2021.

Collin’s Law makes acts of hazing a second-degree misdemeanor, and it makes acts of hazing that include coerced consumption of alcohol or drugs or abuse that result in serious physical harm a felony of the third degree. Collin’s Law also requires reporting to law enforcement and prevention education and training from universities.

The law (which can be found in Ohio Revised Code, Section 2903.31) defines hazing as:

“doing any act or coercing another, including the victim, to do any act of initiation into any student or other organization or any act to continue or reinstate membership in or affiliation with any student or other organization that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm to any person, including coercing another to consume alcohol or a drug of abuse, as defined in section 3719.011 of the Revised Code.”

What should I do if I believe my child has been involved in hazing?

Generally speaking, universities do not monitor the day-to-day activities of Greek life.  

But the sad truth is that hazing is rampant on college campuses across the country.  

When young men and women stand up and report hazing to universities, they make them a safer place for everyone.  

Even people present for some part of the hazing activities can and should report the activities so that the so-called “rituals” do not continue year after year.  

This is vitally important because experience shows that the hazing gets worse year over year because the members want to go “above and beyond” what they experienced.

If your child or loved one has been the victim of hazing, please contact our Ohio hazing attorneys at Cooper Elliott to discuss how we can help.

What sets Cooper Elliott apart when it comes to hazing cases?

At Cooper Elliott, we have experience handling high-profile hazing cases. 

We don’t just deal with the legal aspects of a lawsuit or with insurance companies – we also help victims and their families deal with media inquiries and other advocacy efforts. We’re well-versed in how to use all the tools available to us in order to help our clients achieve justice.

When you reach out to Cooper Elliott with your hazing case, you can expect immediate action. As soon as someone calls us with a potential hazing case, we set the wheels in motion to protect evidence that may be out there, interview witnesses, begin to get answers about what happened, and figure out how it could have been prevented.

Hazing cases tend to generate a large amount of local and national media, as well. We coordinate the media response so that our clients do not have to deal with reporters calling or texting them while they’re focusing on their loved one.

There are many different people and entities that are potentially responsible for hazing injuries and deaths. These can include:

  • active members in the fraternity or organization;
  • other individuals who were present for the hazing;
  • officers or directors of the local chapter;
  • individuals who planned the event;
  • the local chapter;
  • the national organizations; and
  • the colleges or universities who allowed the organization on their campus

There has to be a holistic review of potentially responsible parties to get victims and their families the justice they deserve.  

That’s why we step in and immediately start working to get answers, so that our clients and their families can focus on healing. We work quickly to investigate and identify all responsible parties so we can hold them accountable.

Contact Cooper Elliott today

With these types of cases, the earlier people come to us, the better. It is all too common for evidence to be deleted or destroyed in an effort to cover up what happened. Data from cell phones, social media, security footage, and other sources must be preserved immediately.

Our Ohio hazing lawyers are dedicated to holding perpetrators accountable and helping our clients and their families fight back against this system of abuse. Contact us today to schedule your free evaluation with a member of our legal team.