Lawyer: Alleged FAMU hazing victim's family to sue; friends say victim was gay
Florida A&M University student and drum major Robert Champion, 26, died November 19.
January 10th, 2012
09:23 AM ET

Lawyer: Alleged FAMU hazing victim's family to sue; friends say victim was gay

[Updated at 9:23 a.m. ET] Friends of Robert Champion, a Florida A&M University drum major who died in November after allegedly being beaten as part of a band hazing ritual, have told his family's attorney that Champion was gay, attorney Chris Chestnut said Tuesday. Relatives said they believe sexual orientation may have been one of many factors that could have contributed to Champion being treated more severely than other band members may have been, Chestnut said.

[Posted at 9:21 a.m. ET] The family of Robert Champion, who died in November after he allegedly was beaten on a bus as part of a Florida A&M University band hazing ritual, will be suing Fabulous Coach Lines, based in Branford, Florida, attorney Chris Chestnut said Tuesday.

The bus may have been running at the time Champion was beaten, attorney Chris Chestnut said, and the bus driver might not have been aboard. The family is suing Fabulous Coach Lines, based in Branford, Florida, he said.

Champion, 26, collapsed in Orlando on a bus carrying members of FAMU's Marching 100 band after a November football game that included a halftime performance by the group. Chestnut has charged that Champion died after receiving "some dramatic blows, perhaps (having an) elevated heart rate" tied to "a hazing ritual" that took place on the bus.

The family members scheduled a news conference Tuesday morning to share more information about a marching band hazing incident that they say led to his death.

The medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide and said Champion "collapsed and died within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body."

The death prompted the FAMU  board of trustees to approve a new three-part anti-hazing plan.

The new policy, approved last week, was passed in a 9-1 vote by the board as the school continues to deal with the controversial death.

An autopsy found "extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder and back," as well as "evidence of crushing of areas of subcutaneous fat," which is the fatty tissue directly under a person's skin.

Along with the university, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Orange County Sheriff's Office are also investigating the case.

soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. and justice for all...

    i'd like to know why it was 9-1? who was the hold out that thinks it's ok to haze someone to death. RIP robert champion.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeyATL

      Could be that they thought the new rules were not stringent enough?

      January 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gung hoe

    @ linann please dont be so sure of yourself. In the ARMY its called a blanket party,Thats when they will wrap you up in blankets and whip the crap out of you

    January 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Baby Q

    @ banasy, what was wrong that sentence? I didn't see anything wrong.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Baby Q

    Rather "what was wrong with that sentence? I'm such a smuck! lol

    January 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BOMBO ©

    I love Dr Ruth : ) wonder what she's like in bed?

    January 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ben

    More of the new left era tolerance...

    January 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Nobody has my back today?
    Now who thinks that, at 10:13 AM, JIF©™ posted that money is the root of all evil?
    JIF©™ would post that money is the root of all joy.
    JIF's troll just got the copyright-mark technique.
    JIF loves money.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    If you sue somebody, you have to sue where there's money.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Susan

    How completely insane! Since when is it a bus company's responsibility to babysit adults? These were not little children who needed to be monitored. If you're old enough and smart enough to go to college then you're old enough and smart enough to know that beating another person could have dire consequences. Frankly, the 26 year old who died was certainly old enough to know that allowing himself to get beat could have dire consequences. My prayers for his soul, but really ... did he never hear of the word "no"? I'm certain he and his band mates have heard that hazing was not permitted. Suing anyone over this – let alone someone who had no responsibility here – completely diminishes a sad loss. The parents and this attorney obviously have misplaced priorities.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      They don't care about anything except give me some money. They aren't suing to try and stop anything. They see this as a way to make a buck. Period.

      January 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Joey, it wasn't hard to figure out the technique – I'm just surprised more ppl haven't figured that out yet. I was just playing and wanted to see if it worked. Nothing against u and I won't do it again. Good day!

    January 10, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Saoirse

    Wow, they're really going after anyone and everyone they possibly can! I'm more looking foward to seeing those who beat R.C. being punished. They are the ones truly responsible for his death.
    @Susan: How do you know that he consented to being beaten?

    January 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Susan

    @Saoirse – He had participated in the hazing rituals prior to this so he knew what the hazing consisted of. As for giving his consent, part of the ritual involved walking backwards from the back of the bus toward the front of the bus (or it might have been walking backwards from the front of the bus toward the back of the bus). In either event, he knew the ritual involved being hit, slapped, etc., while walking backwards through the bus. He walked through the bus on his own accord. No one pushed or dragged him through the aisle in the bus. Admittedly, I doubt he said "ok, everyone, give me your best shot while I walk through the bus", however, he was told it was his turn to go through the ritual (I believe that decision was based on both a good game and a good performance by him) and as witnesses have stated, he eagerly took the stance and walked backwards through the line. So, I guess that's consent by his actions. Don't get me wrong, I don't condone what the other band members did. Rather I fault all of them, this man included, for continuing a ritual that was prohibited. Of course no one knew it would end like this, but neither did the proverbial drunk who got behind the wheel, the teen who was texting while driving, the old man who fell asleep with a lit cigarette, or the mom who forgot her child was still in the car seat when she went shopping.

    January 10, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Saoirse

    @Susan: I agree, if he was a willing participant then he's also at fault.

    January 10, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
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