Florida A&M University is looking to wash its hands clean of the hazing ritual that led to the death of Robert Champion. The student was a member of the school’s widely known marching band, and died during a trip with the group, last November.
The University filed a motion Monday (Sept. 10) looking to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit brought on by Champion’s parents, Robert and Pamela Champion. FAMU asserts that Champion was well aware of hazing dangers when he signed a “Hazing and Harassment Agreement” months before his death, acknowledging the “dangers of participating in hazing.”
One of Champion’s fellow band members, has been accused as a co-conspirator in the hazing, while the victim himself has been blamed for not reporting the incident before dying. “It is undisputed that Mr. Champion knew that existence of the danger [hazing] of which Plaintiff now complains, he realized and appreciated the possibility of injuries as a result of such danger, and notwithstanding the opportunity to avoid the danger simply by not showing up at the designated place and time, he deliberately exposed himself to the danger,” read the motion.
Keon Hollis, a band mate who was hazed with Champion, was cited in the motion. According to Hollis, he asked Champion if he was going to participate in the ritual, to which he replied, “Yeah, I just want to get it over with.”
While the filing acknowledges that neither Champion, Hollis, or others involved were “able to predict or prevent this shocking and depraved hazing incident,” FAMU feels that it would be “unfair and illogical” to be held responsible.
Champion, 26, was held back by a female band member as he was hit in the chest, arms, shoulders, and back, with fists, feet, straps and sticks, until he fell unconscious, and later died.
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