3 Florida A&M band members charged with brutal hazing

Florida A&M marching band members (from left) Aaron Golson, James Harris and Sean Hobson.
CBS/Getty/Police handout
(CBS/AP) TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Three Florida A&M band members were charged Monday in the beatings of Bria Shante Hunter, who after their brutal hazing rituals, was left with a broken thigh.

Police said on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, Hunter was beaten with fists and a metal ruler to initiate her into the "Red Dawg Order," a band clique for students from Georgia. Authorities said she had tried to get out of going to a meeting, and the severe rituals ensued.

These beatings took place a mere three weeks before drum major Robert Champion died during a band trip to Orlando. Police suspect hazing contributed to his death.

In the fall incidents with Hunter, she told police days after her beatings the pain became so unbearable she went to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed her with a broken thigh, as well as blood clots in her legs.

Sean Hobson, 23 and Aaron Golson, 19, were charged with hazing and battery on Monday, while James Harris, 22, was also charged with hazing. All three young adults, who a university spokeswoman confirmed were students, remained jailed early Tuesday.

Law enforcement officials report the hazing happened at Harris' off-campus apartment in Tallahassee. At one point, police believe Harris stopped Golson and Hobson from hitting her further.

Hunter told the media in an interview that band members take part in the hazing "so we can be accepted," she said. "If you don't do anything, then, it's like you're lame."

According to the arresting documents, Hunter was targeted by the other members of the "Red Dawg Order" because she tried to get out of going to a group meeting. She was punched again and again on the top of her thighs by Golson and Hobson, witnesses say.

The second beating allegedly took place when Hunter and the other pledges could not recite information about the "Red Dawg Order" correctly. It was then the metal ruler was used on her legs.

Police report that Hunter received a text message from Hobson on Nov. 5 that said, "I apologize for the hurt I put you through. I apologize for the mental and physical strain you have endured." When he was interviewed later by police, he admitted to being part of the "Red Dawg Order," but denied harming Hunter or sending her that text message.

Meanwhile, Champion's death and these arrests have shed light on a hazing tradition that has plagued the university. Former clarinet player Ivery Luckey was hospitalized after he said he was paddled 300 times in 1998. In 2001, band member Marcus Parker suffered kidney damage because of a paddle beating.

Four students connected to Champion's death were expelled but then reinstated. After drum major Champion died the university suspended performances by the famous marching band and school President James Ammons has pledged to break what he calls a "code of silence" on the hazing rituals.

  • Crimesider Staff


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