Sean-Paul Gott and Ryan Matthew Isto, two former Louisiana State University students, received the maximum jail sentence for hazing charges related to Phi Delta Theta fraternity pledge Max Gruver’s death.
In September 2017, about a month after he arrived at college, Gruver died after spending the night drinking at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house. The night of his death, Gruver was at the house for a hazing ritual reportedly referred to as “Bible study.”
Gruver’s death prompted Louisiana legislators to pass a law that made hazing activities that resulted in death when a victim’s blood-alcohol level was at least .30 punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Hazing that didn’t lead to death would be punishable by up to $1,000 and six months in prison. Organizations, such as fraternities, sororities and athletic teams, that knowingly allow hazing could also face up to $10,000 in fines.
Following Louisiana’s lead, in June, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a hazing bill, known as “Andrew’s Law.” Named after Andrew Coffey, who died during a Florida State University Pi Kappa Phi event in November 2017, it made fraternity and sorority members who plan a hazing event but don’t attend criminally liable.
In both Coffey and Gruver’s case, if someone had called 911 when the students exhibited signs they needed medical attention, their lives may have been saved. Under “Andrew’s Law” the first person to call 911 and anyone administering aid to the victim will not be prosecuted under the hazing law.
On Friday, Louisiana District Judge Beau Higginbotham sentenced Gott, 22, and Isto, 20, to 30 days in jail, the maximum amount of time that could be assigned under the law, according to The Advocate. In September Gott and Isto pleaded “no contest” to the misdemeanor hazing charge, which carried the same weight as a guilty plea, but could not be used against them in the event of a civil suit.