Five of the 11 individuals who were facing hazing charges in connection with the 2021 alcohol poisoning death of a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University have had their charges dropped.
The five suspended students, who were members of the now-expelled Delta Chi fraternity, were present during a February 2021 party, where Adam Oakes, a 19-year-old from Loudoun County, died after being told to drink a 40-ounce bottle of whiskey, a police investigation found.
That night, Oakes’ blood alcohol content rose to .419. He vomited and passed out in front of others. No 911 calls were made.
“They could have intervened and pumped his stomach or gotten the massive amounts of alcohol out of his system,” Eric Oakes, Adam’s father, previously told Northern Virginia Magazine following his discussion with the medical examiner.
A subsequent investigation unveiled a culture of hazing that university staff has failed to stifle. The school responded by shuttering of the fraternity months after Oakes’ death, with a university-wide alcohol ban at Greek life events following a short time later.
A prosecutor did not go into detail, meanwhile, as to why charges for the five former students were dropped, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The other six students pleaded guilty or no contest.
“Just because their charges are dropped doesn’t mean they’re innocent,” Courtney White, Adam Oakes’ cousin, told NBC 4. “It still kinda hits you like a Mac truck because you realize that there’s five people who are going to get off scot-free in what was a hazing incident that led to Adam’s death.”
Charges in the case included hazing and serving alcohol to a minor, both misdemeanors. None of the remaining defendants were given a jail sentence.
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