US & Canada

Charges over Robert Champion Florida hazing death

Robert Champion in his Marching 100 uniform at a football game in Orlando, Florida 19 November 2012
Image caption Membership of the Marching 100 is highly coveted at Florida A&M University

US prosecutors have charged 13 people over the death of a Florida university student who died in a hazing incident.

Eleven are charged with hazing resulting in death, a third degree felony. Two face misdemeanour charges.

Robert Champion, 26, was allegedly beaten to death in a university bus in November, a prosecutor said in Orlando, Florida.

Mr Champion was bruised on his upper body, bleeding internally and went into shock, medical officials said.

Mr Champion was a drum major and member of the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University's legendary marching band, the Marching 100.

The hazing allegedly took place after the Marching 100 performed at a football game.

History of hazing

Florida State Attorney Lawson Lamar said that the names of those charged would not be released until they had all been arrested. It is not known if they are all members of the marching band.

Mr Lamar added the trial would not be open to the media and encouraged anyone with information about the case to come forward, saying further charges could be brought in future.

He also said that for those with no criminal record, a conviction could result in nearly six years in prison.

Mr Champion was found unresponsive in the back of a team bus on 19 November 2011 in Orlando, Florida, where the university football team had lost a match to rival Bethune-Cookman.

An unknown caller told emergency services that Mr Champion had been vomiting, and the medical report said he complained of thirst, fatigue and then loss of vision before going into shock.

He died within an hour, the report said.

Hazing involves subjecting members of a group or fraternity to humiliation or abuse, often as part of an initiation.

Hazing has a long history in Florida A&M's marching band and many others around the US.

The Marching 100, has performed at Super Bowls, the Grammys and presidential inaugurations.

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