Friday, September 29, 2023

Pi Alpha Phi fraternity member's charges dropped, witnesses react

September 26, 2022
<p>The crowd at the vigil in remembrance of Phat Nguyen on Nov. 29, 2021, at the Minskoff Pavillion.</p>

The crowd at the vigil in remembrance of Phat Nguyen on Nov. 29, 2021, at the Minskoff Pavillion.

Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

In connection with the death of MSU student Phat Nguyen, the Ingham Country Prosecutor’s Office dismissed former MSU student Hoang John Huu Pham’s charges on Sept. 15. 

Pham, along with former MSU students and co-defendants Ethan Cao and Andrew Nguyen, were each charged with three misdemeanor counts of hazing resulting in physical injury and one felony count of hazing resulting in death in June.

Cao and Andrew Nguyen both waived their right to a preliminary examination and will be arraigned on Sept. 28 in 30th Circuit Court, according to East Lansing Court Administrator Nicole Evans.

According to a Pi Alpha Phi Facebook post on Nov. 19, 2021, Cao was pledge master, Andrew Nguyen was pledge dad and Pham was Phat Nguyen’s “Big Bro.” Pham was also the president of the fraternity and organized the “crossing party,” according to the Lansing State Journal.

Phat Nguyen and Andrew Nguyen are not related.

Although Pham organized the party, Dustyn Coontz, Pham's attorney, did not see evidence specifying that Pham hazed the pledges to the point of physical harm, according to the Lansing State Journal.

Two anonymous witnesses who attended the party and were also interviewed by The State News in December, reacted to the fraternity member's charges being dropped.

One witness at the party confirmed when seeing the pledges in the basement, they said to a fraternity member, “Oh, I would never drink that much.”

“You have no choice,” the fraternity member said, according to the witness.

MSU Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen declined to comment.

“I’m not really surprised,” another witness said. “To me it just kind of feels like he got off easy. … It just seems unfair.”

Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor Randall Behrmann did not respond to a request for comment.

One witness recognizes a pledge's "Big Bro" generally is their safe place and said they believe Pham could've not contributed to the hazing. However, they said the hazing from other fraternity members is obvious.

“The pledge that died was 100% hazed to death, I will say that,” one witness said. “I saw it first thing — they obviously wouldn’t do that to themselves, somebody made them do it.”

If a student needs support services, reach out to MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services, or CAPS, to schedule individual counseling sessions or call CAPS’ crisis services which can be reached at (517) 355-8270 and are available to students at all times.

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