BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore says there have been significant legislative changes when it comes to criminal hazing.
Under the previous law, hazing was considered a misdemeanor and was outlined in one sentence. Now, the Max Gruver Act is three pages long.
“It really addresses the facts of how hazing does normally occur, so surely in our opinion, would make it easier to present our case and prosecute our case,” said Moore.
Phi Delta Theta pledge, Max Gruver, died in September of 2017 after he was forced to drink 190 proof alcohol. His blood alcohol level was nearly six times the legal limit when he died.
“We want this to send a message to the country that hazing should not exist, that it’s dangerous, and we all have to work together to bring an end to hazing,” said Gruver’s father, Stephen Gruver.
Even though a jury just found Matthew Naquin guilty of negligent homicide in the Gruver case, Moore says he could not convict other fraternity members of felonies because the current law was not on the books when Gruver died. Now, it’s much easier to charge someone with a felony for hazing, which carries similar penalties to negligent homicide, but requires less evidence to prove.
“If you coerce someone as a result of a hazing ritual and that person’s blood alcohol level reaches to a .30 or died, then you are responsible for a felony hazing offense,” said Moore.
Thanks to Louisiana’s new, clearly outlined law, Moore says many other states are now looking to update their own hazing laws. That gives Gruver’s parents some comfort knowing their son did not die in vain.
Criminal hazing carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.