24 arrests, zero hazing convictions

This story was written and reported by Channing Flatt, Chris Gibbens, Nicolette Howe, Maggie Mankin, Katy McQuillan, Brittany Rhea and Dalton Wolverton.

In spring of 2017, hazing cases involving mostly Tarleton State University students and one non-student were not only making local, but state and national news headlines such as The Dallas Morning News and the Associated Press.  Nearly one year later almost no one involved in any of the 72 hazing cases filed is talking.

Those arrested were participating in unofficial, off-campus “drunken softball teams,” in which drinking was a part of initiation for new members.

Texan News attempted to contact each of the 24 students involved via email, social media and phone, but received comments from only two of them.

“Why is this still coming up? It’s been a year,” said defendant Daniel Gilmore in a Facebook message. “Does TNS not have anything better to do?”

“I’d prefer to not have my name involved with this any more than it has been,” said defendant Sean Hargrove, who has since graduated.

Tarleton Vice President for Student Affairs Laura Boren, who has been a vocal critic of hazing did not return a phone call about the hazing cases.

Texan News also attempted to contact the presiding judge in these cases, the prosecutor and defense attorneys.

County Attorney Lisa Pence, who prosecuted these hazing cases, did not return a phone call or a request for an interview with Texan News.

Texan News contacted the offices of defense attorneys Brady Pendleton, Scott Osman and R. Shay Isham, who have represented most of those charged. Osman and Isham did not respond.

Pendleton, who initially defended many of the defendants, declined an in-depth interview about the cases.

“I think these kids are ready for this to be in the past,” Pendleton said.

Erath County Court at Law Judge Blake Thompson responded in an email that his office does not keep records of the outcome of each case.

“This information should be available through the County Clerk’s office, alternatively you may want to contact each defendant’s attorney,” said Thompson.

Those records show that the 24 individuals arrested were each charged with three counts of hazing, totaling 72 cases.

Records also show that none of the 24 arrested has been convicted of hazing.

Two students pled guilty to other charges in order to have their three hazing charges dismissed, according to court documents.

The 12 remaining individuals had their charges dismissed after completing pre-trial interventions, according to records.

“Pre-trial intervention is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant that the criminal case will be dismissed at the end of a specified term provided that the defendant complies with all of the terms,” said Thompson.

The 10 remaining cases have yet to be resolved, according to court records reviewed last week.

Editor’s Note: This story was reported by students enrolled in an advanced reporting class at Tarleton State University. Channing Flatt, who was a victim in some of the hazing cases, did not report in the cases that he was directly involved in.

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