If you caught the Today Show this morning, you may have seen the unbelievably tragic story of George Desdunes, a 19-year-old sophomore who was killed as a result of the actions of pledges at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Cornell University. Time Magazine reported:
Desdunes … was kidnapped by students pledging his house, tied up [and blindfolded, with zip ties and duct tape] and made to answer trivia questions about his fraternity. If he answered incorrectly, he was made to do exercises or consume various food and drinks that contained sugar, flavored syrups and vodka, according to ABC News.
Desdunes reportedly passed out, but rather than being taken to the hospital he was left, still tied up, on a couch in the house's library. He was later pronounced dead from alcohol poisoning with a blood alcohol level was .409 — or five times the legal limit.
ABC News adds that George was the only child of Haitian immigrant Marie Lourdes Andre. He was a former altar boy. He wanted to be a doctor. And for this killing, the four former pledges were charged with misdemeanors, and the school suspended the frat - for a few years.
Imagine if this were your child? Marie’s lawyer, Bill Friedlander, reflecting what most people are probably thinking, said, “Bringing misdemeanor charges when somebody is treated the way George was and somebody allows this kind of conduct to continue, I think is not going to affect change.”
There’s good reason to think that, since “at least five other deaths have occurred at SAE chapters since 1997. “’I call it inmates running the institution,’ Friedlander told ABC News. ‘This is a terrible tragic case. He was a really great kid.’”
So his mom has brought a wrongful death suit, hoping this will accomplish the kind of change that nothing else has, so far. She says, “With the death of my son, I find some comfort in knowing that this lawsuit may bring about changes in fraternities that will prevent other families from suffering as I have.”
Making sure no other mom will ever suffer the same tragedy.... This is why people sue.