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Students connected to SUNY Geneseo hazing incident appear in court

Posted at: 10/09/2012 11:10 PM
Updated at: 10/09/2012 11:31 PM
By: Lynette Adams

They told police they were hazed, blindfolded, handcuffed and forced to drink alcohol.

On Tuesday evening, 8 team members from the Geneseo Women's Volleyball team had to answer to these accusations in court.

The team members all showed up for court on Tuesday with their attorneys. They pleaded not guilty to the charges of hazing and unlawfully dealing with a child.

Their attorneys hope to resolve this matter in talks with the district attorney. They want to make it clear these young women are not criminals.

Tom Eoannou, an attorney, said, "It's highly questionable that every single member of the volleyball team participated to a level that someone could call criminal."

For the first time since they were charged 4 weeks ago, 8 members of Geneseo Women's Volleyball Team had to answer to a judge.

Clarence attorney Tom Eoannou is representing Junior Alex Wende.

He said that while hazing is serious, these students have been disciplined and are not criminals.

"Well you have a young lady that has a chipped tooth, you've got a volleyball season that's been suspended... there's been some punishment meted out. We'll just hope that this is fair and just and these kids won't be stigmatized as they go and look for jobs in the future."

8 freshmen volleyball team members told Geneseo Police, the upperclass players blindfolded and handcuffed them and poured alcohol down their throat.

One student was taken to the hospital. Police said she was treated for alcohol poisoning.

Daniel Russo, an attorney said, "My client is a child. She was subjected to blindfolding, alcohol being put in her mouth, just like these other freshman."

Attorney Daniel Russo said his client, freshman Meagan Johnson is being treated unfairly. He said she was arrested and charged because she started at Geneseo in January.

"She didn't ask for the alcohol. She didn't want it. This is part of a ritual that they go through. They understand it, the kids. They know they have to go through it. I wish they would pick another ritual for all of our sake, for all the parents sake. It doesn't make her a criminal. She didn't do anything wrong. This is what students on campus think."

David Morris is a sophomore, who said, "Misdemeanor charges do follow you for the rest of your life and I think a simple nights mistake shouldn't determine your life."

Marisa Ambalavanar, also a sophomore, said, "I think it's something that really needs to be addressed, but I feel sorry for the people who weren't really involved. But I guess that's part of being a team too so I guess it goes both ways."

The young women are due back in court November 13. It's very likely the case will be resolved at that court appearance. It's possible the team members could face community service.