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Three Ohio University Students Plead Guilty To Charges Related To Hazing Death

 This June 12, 2006 file photo shows a gate with a historic marker on the Ohio University campus in Athens, Ohio. In October 2019, the university announced the blanket suspension of 15 fraternities in response to a hazing investigation on campus.
This June 12, 2006 file photo shows a gate with a historic marker on the Ohio University campus in Athens, Ohio. In October 2019, the university announced the blanket suspension of 15 fraternities in response to a hazing investigation on campus.

Three former fraternity members have pleaded guilty on charges related to the hazing death of Ohio University student Collin Wiant.

Wiant, 18, died in November 2018 inside a Sigma Pi fraternity house after inhaling a can nitrous oxide known as a "whippit."

Dominic Figliola pleaded guilty to hazing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and must complete one year of non-reporting probation. Cullen McLaughlin pleaded guilty on two counts of possessing LSD, which is a fifth-degree felony.

Zachary Herskovitz pleaded guilty to permitting drug abuse, a fifth-degree felony, and misdemeanor hazing. He must pay $250 and complete a year of non-reporting probation for the hazing conviction.

“There's nothing in the world other than Collin coming back that could bring justice,” says Wiant’s mother Kathleen Wiant.

All three students are completing a diversion court program called the Athens County Empowerment Program, and none received jail time. They'll be required to pay court fees and serve community service hours.

Judge Patrick J. Lang ordered that Figliola’s charges of permitting drug abuse (fifth degree felony), aggravated possession of drugs (fourth degree felony), and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws (unclassified misdemeanor) be held in abeyance pending completion of the empowerment program. Herskovitz's guilty plea is also being held in abeyance pending completion of the program.

Kathleen Wiant, who advocates against hazing at schools across the country, says she's happy Figliola and McLaughlin will speak to students as part of their punishment.

“I think they have the opportunity to have a powerful and exponential impact by speaking to other college students about hazing," she said. "That's certainly emotionally compelling coming from a mom who's lost her child, but I believe it's so much more powerful and impactful when it's a peer to peer message.."

Figliola and McLaughlin plan to testify against six other defendants facing charges related to Wiant's death.

Sigma Pi was  expelled from Ohio University in April 2019 for “hazing and other violations.”

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