FAMU hazing defendants accept plea

5:12 PM, May 17, 2012   |    comments
Former FAMU student Aaron Golson raises his right hand during a court hearing in which he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor hazing.
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Tallahassee, Florida - Two expelled Florida A&M students have pleaded no contest to misdemeanor hazing in a case involving a female band member last year.

Nineteen-year-old Aaron Golson and 23-year-old Sean Hobson agreed to a plea deal Thursday that lowered their charges from a felony to a misdemeanor. The deal allows them to stay out of jail.

Golson and Hobson were charged with the hazing of Bria Hunter, a freshman clarinet player who was trying to join a group in the FAMU marching band called the "Red Dawg Order".

Hunter said her thighs were punched more than 20 times during the hazing at an off-campus apartment last October.

Hobson says his plea shows he wants to be responsible for his actions and move on with his life.

"It's a stepping stone for me. I'm a grown man trying to get on with my life. I'm about making money right now. That's all I want to do. I got to get on with my life try to get a house, try to establish my life. I needed to get on with this so I'm just glad I can be done with this. I know I got to be accountable for my own actions. I can't worry about anybody else."

About three weeks after the hazing of Bria Hunter, drum major Robert Champion was killed during a hazing ritual aboard a band bus.

Golson is one of 11 people charged with felony hazing in that case. His attorney, Craig Brown, says they are already looking ahead to the Champion case.

"Mr. Golson I'm sure is happy to get this case behind him and as I'm sure you're aware there's the pending case down in Orange County that we'll get prepared for that one as well."

Champion's death has prompted multiple investigations by law enforcement, FAMU and the state of Florida into a culture of hazing at the school.

Hobson wonders if all the focus on the problem right now will change behaviors.

"Not everybody does participate in it, but it happens. It happens everywhere. It happens in football, it happens in sports, happens in a lot of things, just different ways so is it really going to be gone? Who knows. We can only plan for the future."

Both Golson and Hobson will serve one year of probation, complete a 30-day sheriff's work camp and pay restitution for Bria Hunter's medical bills. Plus, they are prohibited from having any contact with her.

The case of another defendant, James Harris, has been rescheduled for next month.

Dave Heller

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