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Former FAMU Student Enters Hazing Plea

By: Julie Montanaro; Whitney Ray; AP; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Julie Montanaro; Whitney Ray; AP; Lanetra Bennett Email

UPDATED 7.27.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A Marching 100 member accused of hazing was sentenced this morning.

Anthony Mingo entered a no contest plea to misdmeanor hazing charges. He was sentenced to six months probation.

Mingo is one of four people arrested and accused of slapping, punching and paddling a clarinet player at a home on Magnolia Drive in September 2011.

Three of the four have been sentenced. One more is still awaiting trial.
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UPDATED 7.9.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A member of the FAMU Marching 100 accused of hazing entered a plea this afternoon.

Brandon Benson was one of four band members arrested in January.

The four were accused of punching, slapping and paddling clarinet players at a home on Magnolia Drive.

Today Benson plead no contest to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to six months probation and 75 hours of community service. Prosecutors say Benson never struck anyone but was home when it happened.

Hakeem Birch already entered a plea in this case and charges are still pending against two others.
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UPDATED 5.16.2012

Court records show that Hakeem Birch has entered a no contest plea to misdemeanor hazing charges.

Birch was one of four Marching 100 members arrested and accused of hazing pledges in September 2011 as part of initiation into a clarinet section called the Clones.

He was sentenced to six months probation and three days on the sheriff's work camp.

Charges are still pending against the other three.

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January 23, 2012 -
by Lanetra Bennett

Four members of the Marching 100 arrested for hazing last week have now been dismissed from FAMU.

Trustees were briefed on the case today 1-23 as well as some new allegations of hazing on campus.

The FAMU Board of Trustees did not go into details about this latest student report of hazing.

However, as I listened in on their teleconference this morning, they say that the four students who were arrested last week for hazing have now been dismissed from campus.

Kaylen Nollie, a FAMU student, says, "You're in a college environment. you're here to learn. So, I don't really understand how someone going to ruin their future over what? What are you really accomplishing by doing something like this."

Denise Bailey, Brandon Benson, Hakeem Birch, and Anthony Mingo were arrested last Thursday.

Court records say all four were Marching 100 members who were initiating a group of pledges to the group of clarinet players, known as "the Clones."

Court documents say during meetings at 639 East Magnolia Drive ... they made the pledges exercise, play music, and punched, slapped, and/or paddled them.

"I don't believe in it. I don't like it...People who do this, they have no guidance, they have no structure, so that's the main reason why they're doing this."

FAMU trustee members mentioned Monday that there's been another student report of hazing.

Trustee Rufus Montgomery is concerned about how these situations are being handled.

"If we're spending $25,000 a month on a consulting firm, are they doing the responses, do they prepare them for the communications department, does the communications department send it out? I just want to know what the process is."

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January 23, 2012 -
by Lanetra Bennett

Four FAMU students arrested last week have now been dismissed from campus.

The FAMU Board of Trustees had a meeting via conference call this morning ... and members say the four students who were arrested for slapping and paddling other band members are no longer allowed on campus.

Denise Bailey, Brandon Benson, Hakeem Birch, and Anthony Mingo were arrested Thursday (1-19-2012)

Court records say all four were in the Marching 100 ... and were initiating a group of pledges to the group, known as "the Clones" ... which is made up of clarinet players.

Court documents say during meetings at 639 East Magnolia Drive ... they made the pledges exercise, play music, and punched, slapped, and/or paddled them.

FAMU Board of Trustee members say there has now also been a separate reported incident by a student.

They say a student reported it to the interim music chair... and it say it has been referred to the FAMU Police Department and to the student judicial office for any disciplinary action.

Trustees also mentioned that they expect to have finalists for their blue ribbon anti-hazing committee by their February 9th meeting...

There is also a Campus Safety Forum planned for January 31st from 3 to 4 pm at the Lawson Center.

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January 23, 2012 -

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The four students charged last week with hazing pledges of a Florida A&M marching band club known as the Clones have been dismissed from the university.

The move was announced Monday during a FAMU board of trustees meeting. The students will have a chance to appeal their dismissal before a student judicial committee.

The four band members face misdemeanor hazing charges after reports that other students were punched and paddled during an initiation. Last week's arrests are the latest in a scandal that has rocked the university and its famed Marching 100 band.

The four students arrested were: Denise Bailey, 22; Brandon Benson, 23; Hakeem Birch, 21 and Anthony Mingo, 22. According to a police report, all denied that hazing occurred or said they didn't know about it.

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ATTORNEYS RESPOND TO LATEST ROUND OF FAMU HAZING ARRESTS:

RENEW REQUEST FOR FULL REINSTATEMENT OF BAND DIRECTOR

TALLAHASSEE—Four Florida A&M University students were charged and arrested yesterday due to alleged hazing incidents which occurred before the death of drum Robert Champion. These incidents, according to the Probable Cause Affadavit issued by the FAMU police department, were reported in November 2011 by Dr. Julian White, director of bands.

The students, Hakeem B. Birch, Denise Lashawn Bailey, Anthony Mingo and Brandon X. Benson are members of “The Clones,” an illegal and unsanctioned clique loosely affiliated with the band’s clarinet section.

Bailey was suspended by Dr. White last year for missing rehearsals, and was not a member of the Marching 100 during the fall 2011 semester. Birch, Mingo and Benson were members of the band when the hazing incident occurred. White issued letters of suspension and withheld scholarships of all students whose names were provided to him once the incident was reported. White initially reported the incident to FAMU police chief Calvin Ross, and was subsequently instructed to provide information to Investigator John Cotton.

Students who have been arrested for hazing have been allowed to return to campus, and in at least one instance, permitted to graduate despite hazing allegations, White, who has repeatedly reported hazing to FAMU authorities, remains on paid administrative leave. In December, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) requested that all disciplinary actions regarding students and employees be put on hold in order to prevent interference with the outcome of the ongoing investigations.

STATEMENT FROM CHUCK HOBBS:

"Dr. White applauds the efforts of law enforcement to arrest individuals that he suspended for hazing and hopes that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Dr. White has been the leading anti-hazing advocate on the FAMU campus for years and his legal team continues to call upon President James Ammons to fully reinstate him to his positions since the original reason for termination— failure to report hazing— is clearly unfounded by the record evidence."
Chuck Hobbs, Attorney for Dr. Julian White

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Updated 1-20-2012 by Lanetra Bennett

Four members of FAMU's Marching 100 have been arrested for hazing.

The incident happened long before drum major Robert Champion's death, but it did involve members of the same clarinet section, known as the Clones.

All four Marching 100 band members were released from the Leon County Jail within just a few hours. They're all charged with misdemeanors for hazing.

FAMU student Gerrell Fontenette says, "I never understood the process of hazing and why people do it."

Authorities say the pledges who were hazed in this house did it to be a part of a group of clarinet players with the FAMU Marching 100, called "the Clones."

Denise Bailey, Brandon Benson, Hakeem Birch, and Anthony Mingo were arrested Thursday.

FAMU student Kaylen Nollie says, "That just could've been avoided. They didn't really have to do that, but they did it anyway. So, if they're arrested, it's their fault because they made the decision to do it. It was their choice to do it."

Court records say the four students hazed five pledges during a series of initiation meetings starting around September 1, 2011.

Authorities say it all happened at Benson and Birch's home at 639 East Magnolia Drive.

The report says Bailey, Benson, Birch and Mingo made the pledges line up, play music and then they were punched, slapped, and paddled.

Fontenette says, "I don't think anybody should be doing that. They came here for an education and to get a degree, not to be brutally murdered or injured or in the hospital."

Documents also say that the pledges had to give money; and that during one meeting, they had to exercise for about an hour, even past exhaustion.

The court records say Benson admits the meetings took place, but denies witnessing any hazing or taking part in it. The other three students denied the meetings ever happened.

The court reports say one of the female pledges took pictures to show bruises on her buttocks and another pledge quit after the first initiation meeting.

No arrests have been made in the Robert Champion hazing death from November 19th.

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Four More Hazing Arrests at FAMU
by Whitney Ray

Tonight we are learning about another case of hazing at FAMU. Four more band members are facing charges, for what police says was the beating of five clarinet players trying to join a secret group within the Marching 100. As Whitney Ray tells us, the hazing ritual in question took place two months before the death of drum major Robert Champion.

Arrested for hazing, four FAMU band members are the latest students to face charges, after the school pledged to end the violent tradition… that may have cost one student his life.

The charges date back to September before the first home football game of the year. That’s when five pledges tried to join a subsection of the clarinets, according to court documents they had to endure a beating to get in. It happened here near FAMU’s campus. The pledges were told to play music while, according to police, senior members of the band punched and slapped them.

“The culture of the campus is changing,” said Floide Shelly, a member of FAMU Student Government.

Shelly says even though the incident occurred nearly five months ago, it’s proof FAMU is turning things around.

“Our student body has become a lot more aware and more cautions of how their actions not only affect themselves, but affect others,” said Shelly.

Governor Rick Scott says the school needs to uncover all hazing cases, even old ones.

“I’m glad that FAMU is taking this seriously. They are looking at the issues they’re dealing with. I hope there are no more incidents were somebody is hazed,” Scott said.

This is the second round of arrests at FAMU for hazing. But there still hasn’t been any arrests made in connection to the hazing that lead to Champion’s death.

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UPDATED 1.20.2012 noon by Julie Montanaro

Four members of the marching 100 have been arrested for hazing.

The incident happened long before the death of drum major Robert Champion, but it happened within the same clarinet section known as the clones.

The four students were arrested yesterday and accused of hazing.

Denise Bailey, Brandon Benson, Hakeem Birch and Anthony Mingo were all arrested yesterday afternoon on misdemeanor counts of hazing. They have since bonded out of jail.

Arrest papers say the charges stem from a series of initiation meetings at Benson and Birch's home at 639 East Magnolia Drive in September.

Arrest papers say five pledges were forced to stand in a line and were punched, slapped and paddled. One of the pledges took pictures of her bruises and another one quit after the first initiation meeting.

Benson admits the meetings took place, but denies witnessing any hazing or taking part in it. The other three students denied the meetings ever happened.

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UPDATED 1.20.2012 9:30am by Julie Montanaro

Court records show that the four people arrested and charged with hazing are accused of misdemeanors in connection with an incident that happened on September 1st, 2011 right before the Rattlers first football game of the season.

All four were booked into the Leon County Jail between 2:30 and 3:30 Thursday afternoon. All four bonded out by 6pm.

Bailey, Benson and Birch all posted $500 bond. Mingo posted $1500 bond because he faces additional charges for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
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January 20, 2012 by Julie Montanaro

Leon County Jail booking records show that four people were arrested and charged with hazing Thursday.

The booking report shows that Denise Bailey, Hakeem Birch and Anthony Mingo were arrested by the FAMU Police Department Thursday. Brandon Benson turned himself at the Leon County Jail.

An LCSO Spokesman said the FAMU Police Department requested all the warrants in the case.

We are trying to get more information about the circumstances leading to the arrests.


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