On November 2, 2012, after an unsanctioned Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity party at Northern Illinois University, 19-year-old David Bogenburger was found dead. Bogenburger died after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and ending up with a 0.43 blood alcohol level, more than five times the legal limit.
Nearly two years later, the courts have sentenced 22 members of the now dismembered fraternity. The sentencing has been labeled as the largest hazing prosecution in United States history.
The DeKalb county judge found five fraternity member officers guilty of misdemeanor reckless conduct resulting in 100 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. Seventeen additional members were found guilty of misdemeanor hazing resulting in 100 hours of community service and a $500.00 fine.
Prior to this criminal case, Bogenburger’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the fraternity claiming that the fraternity had a duty to seek medical attention for Bogenburger and instead moved him to a bedroom unconscious. The lawsuit alleged that the fraternity made heavy drinking a condition to membership and therefore violated Illinois Anti-hazing law. Unfortunately, the family failed to prove violation of the law and the Cook County judge dismissed the case. The judge stated that it was not proven that the fraternity required heavy drinking but instead that Bogenburger simply believed the drinking was a requirement. In addition, the court ruled that the fraternity members could not be held responsible for not seeking medical attention for Bogenberger after he passed out.
Although the civil case was dismissed the attorney for the Bogenberger family has appealed the decision and they hope that the criminal charges will serve as a lesson to the fraternity members and those who follow.