Updated 06/27/2012 06:14 PM
Cornell students acquitted in hazing death
The three men accused of hazing the night Cornell student George Desdunes died were found not guilty by a Tompkins County judge. Our Tamara Lindstrom has more on the verdict.
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TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- It was a night that began in revelry and ended with a young man dead.
George Desdunes, 19, died of alcohol poisoning in February of 2011 after police say he was tied up and forced to drink alcohol in a mock kidnapping by Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledges.
Three Cornell students, Max Haskin, Edward Williams and Ben Mann, were charged with first degree hazing and unlawfully dealing with a child. But their attorneys argued Desdunes drank copious amounts of alcohol before the pledges started the mock kidnapping and in fact caused his own death.
After the ritual, Desdunes was taken back to the frat house and left on a couch, where he was found by a janitor the next morning.
On Tuesday, the judge acquitted all three men of all charges.
Defense attorney Ray Schlater said he's satisfied with the decision that the men did not cause Desdunes' death. But that with a young man dead and three other lives irreparably damaged, there are no winners in this case.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Bonavia said he disagrees with the verdict, but hopes others who find themselves in a similar situation will seek help for someone suffering from alcohol poisoning, instead of leaving them on a couch to die.
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity was found guilty of first degree hazing, first degree unlawfully dealing with a child and second degree criminal nuisance.
A civil suit brought by Desdunes' mother is still pending.