Chun "Michael" Deng, 19, died from head injuries while pledging
to become a member of Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American cultural
fraternity at Baruch in Manhattan.
Seventeen former fraternity members appeared in Monroe County
Court of Common Pleas in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday,
some accompanied by their parents. As the result of plea
bargains, 15 of them pleaded guilty to reduced charges and the
cases of the final two were continued.
"You are better than this," Judge Margherita Patti-Worthington
told the group, urging its members to learn to think for
themselves. "Be individuals and do the right thing going
forward. Don't get caught up in group think."
Thirteen more defendants were expected to plead guilty on
Wednesday, including Andy Meng, former national fraternity
president and brother of U.S. Representative Grace Meng of New
York, prosecutor Kim Metzger said.
Four other young men linked to the case pleaded guilty in May to
being accomplices to voluntary manslaughter and other charges.
Last week, Pi Delta Psi itself was convicted of charges
including aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter but
acquitted of third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter,
both felonies. Prosecutors and defense lawyers said it was the
first U.S. conviction of a fraternity in a pledge hazing death.
Deng died after being injured in a ritual known as the "glass
ceiling" at a home the fraternity rented in the Poconos, about
100 miles (155 km) west of New York City.
During the incident, Deng was blindfolded, wore a 30-pound
(14-kg) backpack and ran a gauntlet of fraternity members who
tackled and knocked him down on the snow-covered ground in
December 2013, police said.
The college students waited for more than an hour before driving
him to a hospital, authorities said.
Deng, a nationally competitive handball player from the New York
City borough of Queens, was the only child of his China-born
Deng's death and others like it have led to sharp criticism of
the fraternity and sorority system in U.S. universities, where
prospective members often must endure brutal rituals to gain
admission into the social organizations. At Pennsylvania State
University in February, student Timothy Piazza died after an
alcohol-fueled pledging ordeal.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Marguerita Choy and
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