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Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman unveils anti-hazing proposal in honor of Timothy Piazza

Debra Erdley
| Friday, March 23, 2018, 9:27 a.m.
In this file photo, Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, speaks at a news conference at in Harrisburg on Jan. 16, 2015. Corman said on July 7, 2015 that GOP leaders in the House and Senate are declaring broad-based tax increases off-limits now that Gov. Tom Wolf has rejected a $30.1 billion GOP-drafted budget.
In this file photo, Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, speaks at a news conference at in Harrisburg on Jan. 16, 2015. Corman said on July 7, 2015 that GOP leaders in the House and Senate are declaring broad-based tax increases off-limits now that Gov. Tom Wolf has rejected a $30.1 billion GOP-drafted budget.

The parents of Timothy Piazza, the 19-year-old Penn State student who died in an alcohol-fueled fraternity event last year, joined Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman Friday to unveil a proposal for a comprehensive new law to put a damper on hazing.

Corman, R-State College, said the bill increases penalties for those involved in hazing; requires schools to have policies and reporting procedures in place to stop hazing; and informs students and parents of what is happening on campus.

“Jim and Evelyn Piazza have taken what is an unspeakable tragedy — their very personal heartbreak — and channeled it into what will be the most complete anti-hazing law in the nation,” Corman said. “They are driven by the memory of Tim, propelled by the desire to make certain that no other child dies as part of some coerced and misguided rite of passage.

“We want this to be a model for establishing and strengthening anti-hazing laws nationwide.”

Corman and the Piazzas unveiled the bill as authorities from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office pressed their case in a preliminary hearing against 11 fraternity brothers charged in connection with Piazza's death.

The 11 former fraternity brothers are among 26 who face charges in Piazza's death. A Bellefonte district judge permitted authorities to press their case, which is expected to continue for several days, even though none of the defendants showed up for the hearing.

A forensic pathologist testified at the hearing Friday that Piazza's injuries, sustained in a fall at the fraternity house, might not have been fatal had those present at the former Beta Theta Pi house sought help immediately.

Piazza family attorney Tom Kline said Corman's proposed law is sorely needed.

“The anti-hazing bill introduced by Sen. Corman is a very significant step forward and is wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supported by the parents of Tim Piazza,” Kline said. “Jim and Evelyn Piazza believe that, if adopted, the Pennsylvania Timothy J. Piazza Law will make our college campuses and fraternity life safer, and will serve as a model law to be adopted and every other state in the United States.”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office is handling the Piazza case, also applauded the proposed measure.

Penn State previously banned Beta Theta Pi, sanctioned members implicated in Piazza's death and established new disciplinary measures in its Greek life community.

University President Eric J. Barron has said he will call for a national movement against hazing and dangerous behavior at a national conference of university leaders on April 23 and 24.

The Associated Press contributed.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.

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