Updated 06/30/2011 05:49 AM
Mother files $25 million lawsuit over frat death
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ITHACA, N.Y. -- The house where 19-year-old George Desdunes' life ended now stands empty. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon member died in February after pledges allegedly tied up the complicit frat brother and forced him to drink alcohol.
"The fact that he was kidnapped, bound, forced to drink and then left to pass on in the fraternity house sort of makes this something that shocks the conscience," said William Friedlander, attorney for the plaintiff.
Now Desdunes' mother, Marie Lourdes Andre, has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the fraternity, its local chapter officers and several members.
"The disturbing thing is that the fraternity, national, has known about these practices for some time. And actually they've had a death every year for the last five years," Friedlander said.
Cornell University suspended the fraternity for at least five years and four former pledges face charges related to the hazing. But Friedlander says that's not enough.
"Bringing misdemeanor charges when somebody is treated the way George was and somebody allows this kind of conduct to continue, I think is not going to affect change," Friedlander said.
However, the attorney said a multi-million dollar judgment against them just might.
The fraternity declined to speak with us, but made a statement about the lawsuit, writing, "Sigma Alpha Epsilon maintains stringent policies and guidelines for its chapters as part of its risk-management program and reaffirms its zero-tolerance policy for actions that do not comply with our regulations."