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Ligonier Township partygoers to be charged with underage drinking

| Thursday, May 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Some attendees of a large Seton Hill University graduation party in Ligonier Township will be charged with underage drinking.

Police Chief Mike Matrunics said officers were dispatched to a house near Hoosier Way off Wilpen Road about midnight on May 9 when a neighbor reported a large crowd outside and vehicles parked on the road, causing a traffic hazard.

Matrunics said 200 to 300 people were at the bonfire party, which was being held in a field.

He said he was told the party was supposed to be contained, but uninvited guests showed up, possibly learning of the event via social media.

Because of the large number of people, township police were assisted by four officers from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Officers “sorted through” the crowd to determine who was underage, Matrunics said, adding that some people ran into the woods.

“Some were caught, some were not,” he said.

While the majority of the people at the party were 21 or older, Matrunics said some of the younger attendees will be charged with underage drinking.

No one at the party was younger than 18, and no drugs were found on the property, the chief said.

The number of people at the party made it difficult to determine who furnished the alcohol, he said, and no one has come forward with such information.

In an effort to prevent drunken driving, Matrunics said, officers checked the drivers of about 100 cars on the property for their licenses and to determine whether they were intoxicated.

Officers are working to get a final count of how many people will be charged. Matrunics said he is not sure whether charges will be filed against the host of the party.

On Tuesday, Charmaine R. Strong, the dean of students at Seton Hill, released a statement to students of the Greensburg university about “an alleged sexual assault at an off-campus location in Ligonier Township” on May 9.

Matrunics could not confirm whether the incident happened at the party.

“The victim hasn't filed a complaint with us,” he said.

In a prepared statement on Wednesday, university spokeswoman Jennifer Reeger said, “This is a matter that Seton Hill takes very seriously. The university will ensure that all appropriate investigatory and follow-up measures will be taken. Seton Hill is working with the Ligonier Township Police Department on this matter.

“Seton Hill will never condone behavior that interferes with the safety of students or others, either on our campus or in the community-at-large, or that fosters, in any way, an environment that is hazardous to students or to others.”

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or nchynoweth@tribweb.com.

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