UNH Fraternity Hazing Charges Came From a ‘Talent’ Show
It was a UNH fraternity "talent show" involving stun guns and alcohol that led to over 40 members arrested and charged with hazing, according to court documents.
Arrest warrants were issued in June for 46 members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity (SAE) following a reported hazing incident that took place April 13 at their fraternity house on Madbury Road in Durham.
Three members of the UNH chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Benjamin Chase, Robert Doherty, and Edward Murray IV, were acquitted of hazing charges Friday by Judge Sawako Gardner in the 7th Circuit-District Division-Dover.
The judge's order in all three cases said the defendant in the case voluntarily participated in a talent show. Witnesses testified that no one was ejected from the fraternity or suffered "adverse consequences" for not participating in the show.
"It was supposed to be entertaining, funny...everyone was supposed to laugh and I think we all did laugh...so that's why I chose to do it," member Mason Steele testified, according to the judge's order.
Member Alexander Wright testified the event was part of the "camaraderie building" within the fraternity. Similar events include volunteer community service, food drives, and NFL watch nights, according to Wright.
Gardner said no one was "physically or psychologically" injured by the talent show.
Most of the other members charged signed an agreement to perform community service in exchange for the charges to be dropped, according to WMUR.
"Talent" With a Stun Gun, Alcohol and Boxing
The order did not describe what happened at the talent show. Murray's order mentions the use of "locker boxing," use of pepper spray, and a Taser electroshock gun.
Deputy Strafford County Attorney Emily Garod told WMUR it was fist fighting, tazing and "chugging alcohol" which led to charges. She called it a "minor case of hazing."
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity is currently under a "recommitment agreement" for continuing membership, according to the UNH website. "Educational sanctions" with its headquarters and UNH are in effect through a two year probationary period, and a social probation is in effect through May 2024.