ATΩ Fights Dado Furnishing Charge
Alpha Tau Omega is currently in court, having been charged with furnishing alcohol to Joe Dado the night of September 19, 2009. As we all know, Dado was found dead behind the Steidle building after a 36-hour search. The fraternity has pled not guilty to that charge, claiming that the party Dado and his friends attended was not an official ATΩ-sponsored event.
Fraternities have pled guilty to furnishing alcohol to minors so frequently that the judge handling the case, Thomas King Kistler, said he has “never had to struggle with this issue at trial.” ATΩ’s defense attorney, Kathleen Yurchak, claims that certain members of ATΩ acted independently of the fraternity in hosting the party.
There was no testimony whatsoever that this was an ATΩ-registered event. There was no testimony it was sanctioned, or in any way funded [by ATΩ]. What [testimony] did show was that there were people drinking beer. That’s not enough to hold the corporation responsible for the actions of its members.
There were no bartenders at the party; the beer was in tubs, and thus, who was served alcohol was not regulated. Greek Life Director Roy Baker also testified that Dado and his friends were wearing IFC rush wristbands, which meant they could get into the party but not necessarily that the could drink. However, prosecutor Nathan Boob noted that the beer at the party was purchased with ATΩ money. Yurchak argued that individual members, acting on their own, may have used the fraternity name at W.R. Hickey in order to get a “fraternity discount” on the beer.
Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said that the University couldn’t speculate on a verdict. However, she did stress the issue of accountability for those at fault in cases like this.
The University is supportive of the use of all appropriate means, including the local courts, for holding members of the University community accountable for misbehavior if found guilty. These public means help reinforce our expectations about behavior, alcohol misuse, and personal responsibility among our students and they do, of course, underscore the serious consequences of high-risk drinking.
As of yet, ATΩ could not be reached for comment.
If a few individuals were acting independently of ATΩ, who should be charged? There are such a high number of clear-cut cases where fraternities did furnish alcohol to minors and admitted to it in court, but is this case any different, and what makes it so?
There are a lot of questions yet to be answered in the case, and we’ll see how it plays out both in court and in the Penn State community.