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FAMU Students Deny Beatings As Band Hazing Probe Grows

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Florida A&M

Florida A&M

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Running back Reggiie Bush #22 celebrates scoring a touchdown with teammates against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Source: Marc Serota/Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Two Florida A&M band were in court Tuesday, after they and a third person were charged  in the beatings of another band member who missed a meeting, an incident which came about three weeks before drum major Robert Champion died during a band trip to Orlando, police said.

Police said the beatings were part of band hazing, which is also being blamed for Champion’s death.

Police said Florida A&M band member Bria Shante Hunter had tried to get out of going to a meeting, so fellow band members subjected her to hazing so severe she was left with a broken thigh.

Tallahassee police said the hazing happened on October 31 and November 1, when Hunter was beaten with a metal ruler and band member’s fists. The beatings were intended to initiate Hunter into the Red Dawg Order, which is made up of band members from Georgia.

Sean Hobson, 23, and Aaron Golson, 19, were charged  with hazing and battery and had bonds set for $10 thousand. James Harris, 22, was charged with hazing, and his bond was set at $2500.

Attorneys for Harris and Golson said their clients would plead not guilty. It wasn’t immediately clear how Hobson would plead.

Hunter told police that days after the alleged beatings the pain became so bad she visited the hospital, where a broken thigh bone was found, along with blood clots in her legs.

Police said the hazing happened at Harris’ off-campus apartment in Tallahassee and that at one point he stopped Golson and Hobson from hitting Hunter further.

Eric Abrahamsen, an attorney for Harris, insisted there was no evidence his client participated in the hazing. Prosecutors said Harris helped planned the hazing.

Craig Brown, who is representing Golson, told a he was a good student and should be released without bond because he was cooperating with police. Leon County Judge Ronald Flurry, however, required Golson to post a bond because he said if the charges were true, they were “egregious.”

After Champion died, the university indefinitely suspended performances by the famed Marching 100 and school President James Ammons has vowed to break what he calls a “code of silence” on the hazing rituals.

After Champion’s death, the school fired band director Julian White, who contends he tried to report problems with hazing to his superiors. He has since been reinstated and placed on administrative leave at the request of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which asked the university to halt all disciplinary actions until the criminal investigation is finished.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

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