Judge asked to toss Fla. hazing death suit

Nov. 28, 2012 at 4:37 PM

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A 26-year-old drum major voluntarily submitted to the hazing that killed him, lawyers for Florida A&M University argued Wednesday.

The school asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Robert Champion's parents, the Orlando Sentinel reported. The university's lawyers said Champion, who had risen to drum major without being hazed or hazing anyone else, had knowingly participated in an illegal act.

"We're not talking about a 17-year-old freshman who was new on campus and new to the band," lawyer Richard Mitchell said. "Robert Champion knew exactly what he was doing."

Circuit Judge Walter Komanski said he might rule as soon as the end of next week.

Champion's parents, Pamela and Robert Champion of Decatur, Ga., were not at the hearing. Their lawyer, Christopher Chestnut, said after the hearing that FAMU in Tallahassee created a culture that led to Champion boarding the bus where he ran a gauntlet last year in an Orlando parking lot.

"This case isn't just about Robert Champion," Chestnut said. "It's about protecting every student who desires to march in any band anywhere. This case is about ending a culture of hazing at an institution where it has been prevalent for decades."

The band has been suspended and several students face criminal charges. After Champion's death, other cases of hazing that left students injured came to light.

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