Rutgers student fractures skull in illegal hazing incident, lawsuit says
New Jersey law bans hazing of college students and imposes harsh penalties on those who engage in the practice.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation making hazing a criminal act in 2021. The law is named after Timothy Piazza. Piazza died in 2017 after pledging a Penn State fraternity. He fell down the stairs after being forced to drink a dangerous amount of alcohol as part of a hazing ritual.
In a case that is eerily similar to the one involving Piazza, a Rutgers University student has filed a lawsuit against the fraternity he was pledging at Rutgers when he took a drunken fall down a flight of stairs.
According to the lawsuit, Armand Runte, 19, claims he was forced to drink copious amounts of booze by members of the Beta Delta chapter of the Theta Chi fraternity while they determined if he would be allowed to join the frat.
The suit names the fraternity, Rutgers and a number of individuals Runte blames for the incident.
Both Rutgers and the Theta Chi fraternity strongly condemn hazing, but the lawsuit claims they ignore their own rules.
Runte claims he was invited to pledge during rush week, and on the night of March 24, 2022, he was forced to consume "life-threatening amounts of alcohol."
Severely intoxicated as a result of the forced consumption, he says he fell down a flight of stairs which caused severe injuries.
The lawsuit lists multiple injuries suffered by Runte, including multiple skull fractures that resulted in a brain bleed as well as potentially permanent damage to his nervous system.
While the suit includes a copy of a police report indicating Rutgers Police did respond to the frat house and had Runte transported to the hospital, it is not clear whether any of the individuals named in the suit were criminally charged.
In addition to hazing, it is illegal to furnish alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.
News12 reports the Greek letters on the outside of the frat house have been removed, but it is not clear if it is connected to the incident named in the lawsuit.
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