Hazing charges against 3 men dropped after incident near Virginia State University
PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Three men charged with hazing students at Virginia State University will not be prosecuted. The Petersburg Commonwealth’s Attorney is setting aside the misdemeanor charges against Deonte Barkley, George Feggins and Michael Snipes - all members of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
Twenty-two year old Michael Snipes, Jr. was considered a student leader. This year he reigned as Mr. Virginia State University, but then came the allegations of hazing - a total of 10 counts. It led to VSU suspending the senior just before he was set to graduate.
Never charged with a crime in his life, Snipes is relieved the hazing charges against him have been dropped.
"That's not a representation of my character,” he said.
At the end of April, he and two others were charged after sources said a police officer noticed unusual activity near the Appomattox River in the middle of the night.
But for Snipes, the problems haven't gone away. He was banned from campus, which meant he couldn’t complete the finals needed to graduate.
"If (the courts) have not ruled on it yet then I don’t understand how (VSU) could. In doing so, it held me up from graduation…I literally only had two finals left,” Snipes said.
When the incident occurred, VSU said in a statement officials don’t condone and have zero tolerance when it comes to hazing. Sources say when police noticed the three men near the river, it was especially alarming since six years ago, two VSU students died trying to cross the Appomattox River during an initiation.
As for Snipes, he says he’s left frustrated. The student with a 3.4 GPA is awaiting an appeal of his suspension, especially since the charges have been dropped.
"I just want to be able to take those finals, get my grades and complete my degree…I have job offers that are contingent upon a degree,” he said.
When a prosecutor sets aside criminal charges, they can come back at any time. Petersburg’s Commonwealth’s Attorney say the alleged victims in the case reported they were not injured, which led to the prosecutor’s decision to drop the charges.
“We had not pictures or other evidence of injuries. Under the hazing statute bodily injury must be shown,” Petersburg’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Cheryl Wilson said.
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