Eight college volleyball players at SUNY Geneseo – including one local woman – are facing charges of first-degree hazing and unlawfully dealing with a child after allegedly forcing the youngest team members to drink alcohol, according to a report published Sept. 7 in the Irondequoit Post.
According to the report, the young team members were allegedly blindfolded, handcuffed and forced to drink alcohol by 11 older current or former team members at an off-campus party on Sept. 2.
Laura Rahab, 21, of East Northport is among those facing charges, and is due in court on Oct. 9. She is one of three from Long Island charged in the incident along with Noelle Morrison, 20, of Stony Brook and Carissa Gagliardi, 19, of Wantagh.
According to the New York State Penal Code, hazing in the first degree occurs when "in the course of another person's initiation into or affiliation with any organization, he intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person and thereby causes such injury." Hazing in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.
The Post reported that Geneseo police began investigating the incident after an 18-year-old player on the team was taken to NOYES Memorial Hospital for treatment for alcohol poisoning.
SUNY Geneseo administrators said via a statement on its website that the college is cooperating with the police investigation and has canceled the team's practices, games, and upcoming tournament.
The college also said: "Hazing is not only a violation of college policy but is a crime under New York State law. We reinforced this with all of our students and their parents all summer long during new student and parent orientation and devoted considerable time to the topic at a recent mandatory meeting for all student-athletes. Unfortunately, as we have seen from a number of news reports already this fall, hazing is a widespread problem in higher education and students far too often fail to heed our messages about the consequences of such acts."