A New York mother is suing Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Cornell University for the death of her son. Marie Lourdes André, the mother of deceased Cornell University student George Desdunes, claims that the fraternity hazed her son to death.
The lawsuit alleges that on Feb. 25, 2011, Desdunes was bound by his wrists and ankles by zip ties and duct tape and quizzed about “fraternity information and lore.” She claims her son was compelled to consume alcohol until he lost consciousness and passed out numerous times. Although he required immediate treatment, the SAE pledges took him to the fraternity house and lay him down on a couch, where he later died.
The next morning he was found by Cornell personnel with his hands and feet still bound. His alcohol level was .409 percent, and his death was claimed to be a result of hazing.
“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,” Desdune’s mother said in a statement.
The lawsuit seeks over $25 million in damages.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded at the University of Alabama in the 1850s and has around 11,000 members in its 241 chapters.
In a statement, he fraternity said, "The organization actively promotes its anti-hazing initiative program called We Stand Together, which educates both members and non-members on ways to recognize and prevent hazing."
In the criminal case related to Desdune's death, a grand jury has named 10 people who were either pledge members or brothers in SAE, SAE’s former chapter president, vice president and several other undergraduate officers as defendants.
In May, Max Haskin, Ben Mann, Edward Williams and a fourth unnamed person under the age of 19 were charged with misdemeanors in connection to Desdunes’ death. They have all pleaded not guilty.
(Photo: Courtesy Marie Lourdes André)