2 NDSU softball players charged in connection with boozy initiation partyFARGO – A late-night, alcohol-fueled party thrown by the North Dakota State University softball team last year has led to criminal charges against two of the players, though prosecutors decided against charging three players with hazing as campus police had suggested.
By: Emily Welker, Forum News Service
FARGO – A late-night, alcohol-fueled party thrown by the North Dakota State University softball team last year has led to criminal charges against two of the players, though prosecutors decided against charging three players with hazing as campus police had suggested.
The charges stem from an initiation party at 1026 16th St. N. in Fargo on the night of Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
A freshman member of the team told an NDSU police officer that 10 freshmen members of the team were told by older members to report for “rook night,” a team initiation for freshmen, according to a letter from Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Renata Selzer explaining the decision to not file the hazing charges – a misdemeanor.
The player told Officer Chris Potter the freshmen were required to pay $15 to sophomore Alexandria Sobrero to buy alcohol. At the party, the letter states, the freshmen were blindfolded by the other students and loaded into three vehicles, then driven to an off-campus apartment in north Fargo.
Freshmen were assigned a “master” from the older team members and had to ask permission to do things, then forced to drink alcohol if they disobeyed, the player claimed. She also told police that older players doled out “embarrassing punishments” to freshmen, such as wearing ugly sweaters, crawling around on their hands and knees, and pushing plates around the floor.
The letter from Selzer states that when interviewed, other freshmen told investigators their participation – including the alcohol consumption – was voluntary, and they weren’t coerced into the activities.
Given that all the other players said they considered the drinking and the “obeying” voluntary, Selzer declined to charge Sobrero or two other team members with hazing.
She also wrote that some of the activities in question – such as wearing an ugly sweater and pushing a plate around the floor – would not create a “substantial risk of physical injury,” as the hazing law requires.
NDSU police recommended charges of hazing and delivery of alcohol to a minor be filed against three players, according to a news release from the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Selzer did file a Class A misdemeanor charge of delivery of alcohol to a minor against Sobrero, who is originally from Paradise, Calif., according to the NDSU softball roster. The maximum jail time for a conviction on a Class A misdemeanor is one year.
Sobrero allegedly admitted to police she obtained the alcohol for the party by getting a man to purchase it for her. One of the players reported there were 10 or 11 bottles of hard liquor at the party and a refrigerator full of Keystone beer.
The other player charged in the case is Cassidy Szeredy, of Pittsburg, Calif.
Szeredy, a freshman, is charged with harassment and disorderly conduct after court documents say that she pushed, took swings at and shoved another player into the wall at the same party.
Court documents allege another freshman player, Jenna Isbel, told police Szeredy became angry with her and pushed her into a wall, and that after Szeredy would not leave her alone, several members of the team carried Szeredy out of the apartment and took her home.
Szeredy told investigators all of the freshmen players at the party were “very intoxicated.”
She also admitted she had cut up photos of Isbel’s and left them at the home, then sent Isbel text messages about the ruined pictures after the women had removed her from the party.
The harassment charge is a Class A misdemeanor. The disorderly conduct is a Class B misdemeanor with a maximum jail time of 30 days, upon conviction.
Szeredy, who played third base, isn’t listed on the NDSU 2013 softball roster. Sobrero, an outfielder, is on the 2013 roster.
“I am extremely disappointed in the actions of our athletes,” NDSU head coach Darren Mueller said in a written statement. “We pride ourselves on a disciplined program and their behavior does not represent the standards and expectations that have been set. We will work with the athletic department and university personnel to further educate our athletes in making better decisions.”
Mueller announced that sanctions, including games suspensions that will range from three to 10 games, are being enforced.
No team activities were permitted during the suspension.
The university release stated that due to federal student privacy laws, specific information could not be released.
The softball team’s first games of the season are scheduled for Feb. 8.