Criminal charges coming in FAMU band hazing case

(CBS News) Prosecutors will announce criminal charges Wednesday, five months after the hazing death of a Florida A&M marching band member.

CBS News has learned around a dozen people will be arrested and charges will include both felonies and misdemeanors.

The student, 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion, Jr. died last November after a severe beating. The cause of death was trauma, caused by excessive bleeding after a hazing ritual aboard a band charter bus involving more than two dozen students.

Parents: FAMU hazing was retaliation

The parents of the dead student, Pam and Robert Champion Sr., say any arrests will be five months overdue.

"When someone loses their life because of a crime, they should be punished," Champion Sr. said.

"The most important thing is that the example needs to be set," his mother said. "It needs to be an example that sets the stage of what will not be tolerated."

In the hazing ritual, Champion was allegedly kicked, punched and stomped as he ran from the front of the bus to the back. He collapsed and died on his way to the hospital.

After his death, the school's band director admitted its hazing history stretched back four decades. Just this week, two music professors were fired for participating in band hazing.

Champion's parents have sued the bus company, Fabulous Coach Lines, and plan to sue the school.

"They're going to have to clean the house," Champion's mother said. "They're going to have to step up and do what they know is the right thing to do ... Get rid of the filth that's there. Everything is out in the open, so you can't continue business as usual."

The university has appointed a task force to investigate its hazing culture and suspended all band activities.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.

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