MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (KDKA) — Police have filed charges against a young man in connection with the death of a West Virginia University freshman who was found unresponsive last fall in a frat house.
According to the criminal complaint, 20-year-old Richard Schwartz of Williamsville, New York, is facing charges of hazing and conspiracy to commit hazing.
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The criminal complaint reports Schwartz had been the assigned “big brother” to the victim, 18-year-old Nolan Burch. Schwartz was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity where Burch was a pledge.
Burch died back in November after being found unresponsive at the frat house. He was rushed to Ruby Memorial Hospital, but passed away a day later in their intensive care unit.
According to the criminal complaint, Schwartz is accused of providing the teen with “a bottle of liquor as a planned part of the ceremony of big/little night.”
Morgantown Police have said the night is part of a fraternity initiation ritual that was held in another nearby location.
Investigators say “Burch consumed a large quantity of alcohol,” and was then carried back to the frat house by other members, laid on a table and was later found unresponsive.
He died of “acute ethanol intoxication,” the criminal complaint reports.
Last month, Morgantown Police said Burch had a blood alcohol level of 0.493.
Days before Burch’s death, Kappa Sigma had their charter pulled by the national fraternity, and was no longer a recognized fraternity or student organization at West Virginia University.
Also, in the days following Burch’s death, WVU suspended social activities for all Greek life.
WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris released this statement today, following the filing of the charges:
“We are still grieving over Nolan’s untimely death and for his family, who has faced such a sadness and loss.” As to the criminal complaint, that is a legal matter that will need to take its course, Farris added.