Matt’s Law hits home

Out of all the college Greeks in California, it looks as though locals will be the first ones charged under a new anti-hazing law named in honor of a dead Chico State University student.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey will be using Matt’s Law to prosecute three Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers for misdemeanor hazing. The incidents in question occurred at the fraternity’s Third Street house last spring, just months after the legislation went into effect. Chico State has since stripped the organization of its university affiliation.

Ramsey told the CN&R he was shocked by the outcome of a University Police investigation, which uncovered several alleged pledging rituals that appear eerily similar to those conducted at the Chico fraternity where Matthew Carrington died in 2005. One initiation ritual required pledges to immerse themselves in a bathtub filled with ice water. In another, the men performed extreme calisthenics in muddy conditions.

“I thought this was all behind us,” Ramsey said earlier this week. “It’s shocking and sad that this came up and only a few blocks from where Matt died.”

Ramsey was referring to the Chi Tau fraternity house, where Carrington took part in a ritual involving water consumption and strenuous exercise in hypothermic conditions. While the 21-year-old pledge died primarily from drinking too much water, the district attorney confirmed that a member of the prior pledge class had sought medical treatment for the effects of an ice-water bathing ritual.

Christopher Bizot, 23, and Michael Murphy, 22, both Chico State students and the fraternity’s president and vice-president, respectively, along with Butte College student Matthew Krupp, 23, face charges for their alleged roles in activities “likely to cause serious bodily injury.” The men each face up to a year in jail and $5,000 in fines for misdemeanor hazing. Bizot faces an additional six months and $5,000 in fines for interfering with the police investigation.