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Lawyers for former NIU fraternity members say state's hazing law too vague, unconstitutional

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DEKALB, Illinois — Lawyers representing five former fraternity members charged following the 2012 death of a pledge are hoping to convince a judge that Illinois' hazing law is unconstitutional.

Defense attorneys want a judge to drop the charges against their clients because the state's hazing statute is too vague, the (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/1ijF114).

"This hazing statute is incurably vague, not only in application to the defendant, but in all other situations," said Richard A. Kayne, who is representing 22-year-old Steven Libert of Naperville.

The state's hazing law makes it illegal to require students to perform any unauthorized act that causes bodily harm to be accepted to a group connected with a school.

"The term 'any act' is not defined, and it is literally boundless in meaning," Kayne argued.

But prosecutors disagree.

"Forcing somebody to drink large amounts of alcohol to get into a fraternity is a prime example for hazing," said Assistant State's Attorney Julie Visher.

Five men are accused of felony hazing for the November 2012 death of Northern Illinois University freshman David Bogenberger.

The 19-year-old was found dead at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house on Nov. 2, 2012. The night before, he and other pledges had attended an event that the national fraternity organization says was not sanctioned. Toxicology results found Bogenberger's blood alcohol content was about five times the legal limit for driving.

According to authorities, Bogenberger and other pledges drank vodka and other liquor for about two hours during the Nov. 1 fraternity event. Several of the pledges told authorities they got sick or passed out because of the heavy drinking, police said.

More than a dozen other fraternity members are facing misdemeanor charges for the incident.


Information from: The Daily Chronicle, http://www.daily-chronicle.com

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