Update: More Hazing Arrests

Less than a week before the Florida Classic, band director Julian White warned university officials about a September hazing incident.

Authorities have arrested another four Florida A&M students following an investigation of that incident.

The students arrested include Denise Lashawn Bailey, Hakeem B. Birch, Anthony Mingo and Brandon X. Benson.

Bailey, Birch and Mingo, who were in the clarinet section along with Robert Champion, were arrested by the FAMU Department of Public Safety. Benson was arrested by the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.

This is considered a separate incident, not connected to the Champion death investigation.

All four have been released on bond.

The students were accused of participating in the hazing of other students or failing to effectively prohibit hazing by others.

According to affidavits, five students were involved in initiation ceremonies in early September in an attempt to enter into a sub-group within the Marching 100’s clarinet section called “The Clones.”

The incident was initially reported by FAMU Director of Bands White four days before the band departed for the Florida Classic, where Champion was killed following a hazing incident.

Interviews conducted by investigators with the victims and those arrested revealed that several initiation meetings were planned for pledges to the group during September.

At the meetings pledges were forcibly subjected to physical exercise, punches, paddling or double-handed slaps to the back.

According to the affidavit, the meetings were coordinated by Bailey and/or Benson, and one of the pledges and took place at the home of Birch and Benson in Tallahassee.

Following the incidents, the victims compared injuries. One vicitm took digital photographs of bruising on her body. She subsequently discontinued trying to enter into the group after the first meeting Sept. 1.

This marks the second series of arrests following the announcement that the culture of hazing at FAMU would be under investigation by administrators and law enforcement officials. In the wake of Champion

As allegations of hazing incidents continue to surface, FAMU Chief Communication Officer Sharon Saunders said in a statement, “We encourage anyone who has been a victim of hazing to come forward. We also do not tolerate retaliation and will take all necessary steps to ensure that students coming forward with complaints or participating in an investigation into a complaint can do so without fear of retaliation.”