New Jersey governor signs anti-hazing law with harsher penalties and school policy requirements
Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/AP

New Jersey governor signs anti-hazing law with harsher penalties and school policy requirements

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new anti-hazing bill into law Tuesday that requires schools to adopt policies against hazing and increases penalties for those found guilty.

The law is inspired by the death of Timothy J. Piazza, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Piazza, of Lebanon, New Jersey, died in 2017 after excessive drinking on his first night pledging the Beta Theta Pi house at Penn State University led to a series of falls that resulted in a severe head injury and his death the next day, according to court records and testimony.

Fraternity members waited 12 hours to call 911, and Piazza died from a traumatic brain injury, according to court records and testimony.

“The safety of our students is our top priority, and we must do all that we can to protect them from cruel and dangerous hazing rituals,” Murphy said. “With today’s bill signing, we honor Tim Piazza’s life and make our strongest effort yet to root out hazing to prevent similar tragedies.”

The new law requires all “higher education institutions,” as well was public and private middle and high schools, in New Jersey to adopt anti-hazing policies and enforce penalties for violations of the policy, the governor’s office said.

Additionally, the law raises the severity of hazing charges, effectively enforcing a harsher punishment upon conviction.

Serious bodily injury or death resulting from hazing will be charged as a third-degree crime instead of a fourth-degree crime, the governor’s office said. Hazing that causes bodily injury has been upgraded a to fourth-degree crime from a disorderly persons offense.

Four former Penn State fraternity brothers were sentenced in Piazza’s death, including three sentenced to jail time.

In October 2018, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an anti-hazing bill named after Piazza that requires Pennsylvania schools to have policies and reporting procedures in place to stop hazing.

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