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Penn State hands down punishments related to frat pledge death

Separate from the criminal case, the seven students faced punishments ranging from probation to expulsion.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller in May announcing  findings in the investigation into the death of Penn State  fraternity pledge Tim Piazza.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller in May announcing findings in the investigation into the death of Penn State fraternity pledge Tim Piazza.Read moreABBY DREY / AP

Pennsylvania State University has imposed punishments ranging from probation to expulsion on seven students for their roles in the fraternity pledge party that led to the death of pledge Tim Piazza, the university announced Tuesday.

The sanctions were for violations including hazing and "creating a condition that endangers," the school said.

The seven were among 32 students investigated after Piazza's death in February, which came after an alcohol-fueled pledge event at the now-defunct Beta Theta Pi fraternity. An additional 19 students who were included in the probe withdrew from  school before the disciplinary process was complete, the university said. Six others were not charged with any violations.

Citing student privacy, the school did not name the students who were punished or withdrew. Nor did it say if the 32 students investigated all were members of Beta Theta Pi.

"We remain resolved to focus, as we always do, on student safety and well-being, and will continue to hold accountable any individuals or student organizations that put others in danger," Penn State president Eric J. Barron said in a statement.

The university's student-conduct process is separate from ongoing criminal charges pending against 14 members of the fraternity.

Eighteen students initially were charged in Piazza's death, eight of them with felony aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter. A Centre County judge in September dismissed the aggravated-assault and involuntary-manslaughter charges after a lengthy preliminary hearing that spanned several days, but Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller recently refiled those charges against the eight. Six more students face lesser charges, including hazing.

Piazza was forced to drink large quantities of alcohol during a drinking gauntlet, prosecutors alleged, and later fell down the stairs at the large fraternity house. No one called for help for nearly 12 hours, and Piazza later died of a head injury, ruptured spleen, and collapsed lung.

Penn State permanently banned the fraternity and announced a crackdown on its Greek system.

"Dangerous drinking and negative behavior within the Greek Life community are longstanding issues impacting campuses nationwide, and we have said enough is enough," Damon Sims, vice president for student affairs, said in a statement.

The university also on Tuesday announced it had revoked recognition of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity through the end of the fall 2018 semester, following violations of university rules. It did not elaborate.

It becomes the fifth fraternity suspended since Piazza's death. The others are Delta Upsilon, Pi Lambda Phi, Beta Theta Pi, and Sigma Alpha Mu. Under 80 fraternities and sororities remain in operation at the university.