13 Charged in Band Member's Hazing Death
Robert Champion of Florida A&M was beaten on a bus
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 2, 2012 4:08 PM CDT
In this Oct. 8, 2011, file photo, Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion performs with the band.   (AP Photo/Don Juan Moore)

(Newser) – Thirteen people were charged today for their roles in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University drum major who was severely beaten in what appears to be one of the biggest college hazing cases ever. The charges were announced more than five months after 26-year-old Robert Champion died aboard a chartered bus. Eleven of the 13 will face a hazing-resulting-in-death charge, a third-degree felony. If convicted, they face up to nearly six years in prison. The other two will face misdemeanor charges.

The family's lawsuit described two types of hazing that took place on the bus:

  • Pledges of a band clique known as "Bus C" ran from the front to the back of the bus while other band members slapped, kicked, and hit them. A pledge who fell was stomped and dragged to the front of the bus to run again.
  • In a ritual known as "the hot seat," a pillow case was placed over the pledge's nose and mouth while the pledge was forced to answer questions. If a pledge got a right answer, the pillow case was removed briefly; a pledge with a wrong answer was given another question without a chance to take a breath, the lawsuit said.