Texas Fraternity Ordered to Pay $16.2M in Hazing Death

Published: October 26, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas – The national and University of Texas chapters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) were ordered by a Texas state district judge to pay $16.2 million in penalties as a result of a hazing incident that killed a freshman pledge in November 2006.

Tyler Cross fell from a fifth-floor balcony as a result of being highly intoxicated. Investigators said that the night before his body was discovered, he and other pledges were given half-gallon bottles of alcohol to drink. An autopsy report showed that Cross’s blood alcohol level was double the legal limit for driving in the state.

Through their attorneys, the Cross family tried to contact the local and national chapters for the organization; however, the family never received a response. Thus, the state district judge ordered the fraternity to pay each of the parents $2.5 million for mental anguish and nearly $81,000 for funeral expenses. Additionally, the organization must pay other damages.

The family also claims that the victim was subjected to hazing, including beatings with paddles, forced consumptions of large amounts of alcohol and sleep deprivation.

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Earlier this year, two pledge leaders in the UT chapter pleaded no contest to hazing and supplying alcohol to minors. They were sentenced to four days in jail and two years of probation.

The former president of the chapter also pleaded no contest to the charges and received one year of deferred adjudication. A fourth member pleaded no contest for failure to report hazing and received one year of deferred adjudication.

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