BELLEFONTE, Pa. (KDKA) — Since 1961, at least one person has died from a hazing incident every year.
In 2017, there were four hazing-related deaths. Nineteen-year-old Timothy Piazza was one of those deaths. Friday, a Pennsylvania lawmaker introduced a bill in his memory.
Piazza lost his life while pledging Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State University. As the criminal case is still pending, Piazza’s parents, James and Evelyn, have become outspoken advocates against college hazing.
“Universities around the country are struggling with what has become an epidemic and it must stop,” said James Piazza.
Current Pennsylvania law provides for misdemeanor-level charging for hazing.
“Today, I’m honored, on their behalf, to introduce the Timothy J. Piazza law,” said PA Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman.
Corman announced Senate Bill 1090, an anti-hazing bill that would make a multitude of changes.
PA Senate Bill 1090:
1) creates tiers of hazing crimes
2) makes hazing that causes serious bodily injury or death a felony
3) holds organizations and institutions responsible for hazing
4) offers prosecution immunity for 911 distress call
“One of the problems in this case was that no one called. I don’t know if it was because they were fearful or not. But we want to make sure that first things first we take care of the person in distress. And this would allow such to do that without being fearful,” said Corman.
“This law, if enacted, will change the landscape in Pennsylvania and hopefully will become the model for states to adopt throughout the country,” said Piazza.
The proposed law is scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Tuesday.