US & Canada

Mother sues Cornell fraternity over 'hazing' death

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The mother of a US student who died after drinking at a fraternity house is suing the group for $25m (£15m), saying her son was "hazed" and left to die.

Marie Lourdes Andre claims her 19-year-old son, George Desdunes, was bound and forced to drink alcohol at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity house.

Mr Desdunes, of Cornell University in New York state, was allegedly kidnapped as part of a ritual.

He was found unresponsive the next day and later died in hospital.

Mr Desdunes, a human ecology student, was allegedly tied up by his wrists and ankles with zip ties and duct tape, quizzed on SAE history and forced to consume large amounts of alcohol until he passed out, according to the lawsuit.

The victim was then left to die on a couch at the fraternity house, according to court documents filed in New York state's Kings County Supreme Court.

Mr Desdunes was unresponsive when he was found by Cornell University staff the following day, with an alcohol level of .409% - five times the legal limit for driving in New York state.

The lawsuit filed by his mother alleges that another student attempted to interfere with the crime scene by having the zip ties removed before police arrived.

"With the death of my son, I find some comfort in knowing that this lawsuit may bring about changes in fraternities that will prevent other families from suffering as I have," Ms Andre said.

Some former members, or pledges, of the fraternity were charged with first-degree hazing and unlawfully dealing with a child in connection with the death.

Cornell University "neither condones nor tolerates hazing or the type of activities that we understand contributed to George's death", said Tommy Bruce, a spokesman for Cornell.

Cornell has since withdrawn recognition of the SAE fraternity.

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