*Hat Tip: Kevin D.
Text messages exchanged between two Penn State students suggests that one of the pledging rituals the young white males of Beta Theta Pi had to undergo was the elephant walk.
That involves a group of white males lining up, holding the penis of the person in front of or behind them and then walking around, a practice that has long been rumored to be a part of pledging rituals but seldom confirmed.
In some instances, the individuals will hold the erect penis of the person behind them while inserting their thumb in the sphincter of the individual in front of them in line.
It appears to be confirmed in this case by Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi president Brendan Young, who spoke about it in a text exchange with Maddie Miller two months before the death of 19-year-old pledge Timothy Piazza at the fraternity house.
Miller texted that Young should ‘take it out on the pledges,’ to which he replied: ‘Whip the dick out?’
That is when Miller wrote: ‘If ever there was a time for an elephant walk it would be tn.”
Young responded that it was his ‘least favorite part of pledging and then wrote to Miller the next day: ‘I’m burnt out from hazing.’
Eight of the members of Beta Theta Pi who have been charged in relation to the death of Piazza appeared in court on Tuesday afternoon.
Michael Schiavone, Lars Kenyon, Ed Gilmartin, Ryan McCann, Lucas Rockwell, Braxton Becker, Ryan Foster and Joseph Ems were all ordered to surrender their passports before being released on $50,000 bail.
When asked later if she thought those conditions were fair, District Attorney Stacy Park Miller said: ‘Tim Piazza lies in a mausoleum so I want these restrictions.’
None of those individuals are charged with involuntary manslaughter like the eight who were arraigned last Friday, and all 18 who have been charged will next appear in court on May 17.
Other details of the pledging rituals at Beta Theta Pi were also revealed by authorities who questioned Greggory Rizzo, a brother at the fraternity.
‘Rizzo detailed his paddling ceremony as beginning with the pledges walking into a room with a pillow case over their heads,’ according to the grand jury indictment.
‘Brothers were asked if the pledges were willing to walk over glass for their fraternity, the pledges then walked over potato chips; next brothers asked if they were willing to drink the blood of their fraternity, before being given tomato juice with Tabasco sauce; third, brothers inquired if the pledges were willing to drink their brother’s urine before making them drink Gatorade.
‘Finally, brothers asked the pledges if they were willing to take a hit for their brother, after which a brother struck Rizzo twice with a wooden object which hurt significantly but did not require medical attention.
‘Rizzo described this pledging activity as a mind game between the brothers and the pledges.’
Authorities say that Piazza repeatedly fell down a flight of stairs after he and others were made to run a gantlet of drinking stations guzzling vodka, beer and wine.
Beta Theta Pi members then resisted getting help for the teenager, causing him to suffer for hours and possibly making his injuries worse.
‘This is a very sad day for Centre County – it’s been sad ever since we lost a child for reasons that are totally preventable,’ said District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller during a press conference on Friday.
The grand jury who indicted the 18 fraternity members, aided by security camera footage, said the fraternity was heavily stocked with booze for the February 2 ceremony at which Piazza, a sophomore engineering student from Lebanon, New Jersey, and 13 others accepted pledge bids.
The pledges were pressured to chug vodka, shotgun beers and drink wine according to court documents.
Piazza tumbled down a flight of stairs that night and fell several other times, injuring his head Miller said on Friday.
Early the next morning he fell down the stairs again and was unconscious when help was finally summoned. He died the next day as a result of a traumatic brain injury.
Miller said doctors estimate Piazza had a blood-alcohol content of nearly 0.40 per cent, five time the legal limit for drivers.
The investigation found some frat members tried to conceal what happened, with one text message recovered by police urging pledges to get rid of evidence of alcohol.
There were also conversations discussing the need to delete conversations from a messaging app that were discovered by investigators.
Piazza’s father Jim blamed a ‘flagrant disregard’ for the law and said the death ‘didn’t have to happen’ on Friday.
‘Sadly, we’re never going to see his smile again except in pictures,’ said the heartbroken father.
Penn State permanently banned Beta Theta Pi on March 30, accusing it of a ‘persistent pattern’ of excessive drinking, drug use and hazing.
University President Eric Barron called the report heart-wrenching, sickening and incomprehensible.
‘It is numbing how an atmosphere that endangers the well-being and safety of another person could occur within an organization that prided itself on commitment to each other and to its community,’ said Barron in a statement last week.
Miller said video footage turned over to investigators provided evidence of what occurred and contradicted stories some witnesses had told.
The cameras recorded Piazza drinking vodka and beer and an hour later needing help to walk from an area near the basement stairs to a couch.
Piazza could later be seen trying unsuccessfully to open the front door, then ‘severely staggering drunkenly toward the basement steps’ according to the grand jury report.
He was found at the bottom of the steps after apparently falling face-first. Four brothers carried his limp body upstairs, where some poured liquid on him and one slapped him in the face, the grand jury said.
Fraternity members put a backpack containing textbooks on him so he wouldn’t suffocate on his own vomit, according to the grand jury.
Two of the men, Brendan Young and Daniel Casey, were indicted on 200 counts by a grand jury, with Casey also racking up one additional charge for underage drinking on the night in question.
Meanwhile, grand jury testimony from Detective David Scicchitano which has been released in the case revealed that in the eight days before Piazza’s death, Craig Heimer purchased $1,179.30 worth of alcohol for the fraternity.
Those purchases consisted of ‘numerous cases of Crown Rouse vodka and Natural Light Beer, 15 cases of Four Loko and multiple boxes of wine’ according receipts inspected by Detective Scicchitano.
Authorities claim that part of that massive liquor haul was later consumed by pledges in the hours before Piazza fell approximately 15 feet down a stairwell and sustained an injury that led to his death after the young men present refused to call 911 for 12 hours.
In text messages obtained by authorities which were sent in the days prior to the pledge event, one of the brother’s can be seen asking Heimer to make large alcohol runs.
Heimer was one of the few members of the fraternity who was old enough to legally purchase liquor.
In one text exchange, Michael Schiavone, who was also 21, asks Heimer if he could purchase ‘175 [Four] Lokos, seven cases of Natty [Natural Light], on crate of [Crown] Rouse.’
Heimer then asked how much money he should get, how many bottles were in a crate of the vodka and where he could get that many Lokos.
Schiavone responded by texting that it would be $800 case, the crate contained ‘six handles’ and gave him the name of a local store that had close to 200 cans of Four Loko in stock.
A week later Schiavone again texted asking Heimer to purchase ‘six Rouse.’
Shortly after, Heimer responded: ‘Handles are in your room.’
It was just hours later that the pledge activities began and Piazza suffered his fatal fall.
A fraternity brother who was present following that fall revealed in an interview on Monday that he was thrown against a wall when he tried to help Piazza.