Georgia Teen Hospitalized After Brutal Hazing
April 1, 2023 Don Pumphrey, Jr. College Student Disciplinary Hearing, Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes Social Share
Hazing is an unfortunate trend that subjects a person to harassment, humiliation, physical harm, or other forms of abuse. The act can take place in many forms, and is often popular among minors and young adults at college and university. In Florida, a person accused of hazing can face harsh penalties.
A recent case in Georgia highlights the dangers of hazing, which we will provide the details for. This page will also explain the penalties for hazing in Florida, along with the importance of criminal defense for young people.
What was the Incident?
Georgia authorities are investigating an alleged hazing case that resulted in the victim being dropped off at the hospital. According to the report, 19-year-old Trent Lehrkamp lost consciousness after being forced to consume vodka and mushrooms by a group of teenagers. The victim was allegedly tied to a chair, urinated and defecated on, and covered in spray paint.
The Glynn County Police Department responded to the hospital where Lehrkamp was dropped off on March 21st, 2023 after getting a report about hazing. The victim was left at the hospital by three minors, who left their names with the Southeast Georgia Health Center.
The victim was found by nurses with spray paint on his body and was treated “for a high level of intoxication from a mixture of controlled substances and alcohol.”
Officers discovered more details in the hazing case after a Facebook post by a group called “Glynn County Citizens on Patrol” posted an image of four teens posing around Lehrkamp. In the image, the victim appears to be passed out in a chair with various items, defecation, and substances covering him. One of the boys is displaying both of his middle fingers.
The next image shared by the Facebook page was of Lehrkamp in the hospital, attached to a ventilator. According to the post, Lehrkamp was “deemed inconclusive to life; only passing six breaths per minute.” The post stated the victim was staying in the ICU while fighting a fever and a lung infection. Comments on the Facebook post also indicated that Lehrkamp may be on the Autism spectrum.
There was an additional video added to the Facebook page, which was taken on a separate occasion. The video displays Lehrkamp again slumped over in a chair, but this time with a hose trained on him. There are at least nine individuals in the video, with one facing the camera and shouting, “This dude is perfect!”
A GoFundMe account was created by Erika Keller to help Lehrkamp’s family with the medical bills. The following is a statement by Keller on the Facebook page:
“I’m sharing this to help support Trent’s family and the medical bills that will likely cripple them as a result of the tragic events that happened to Trent. I’m also sharing this to help bring awareness to the situation, as it has now been five days and still little has been done to bring justice for Trent and his family.”
Georgia school officials have identified several of the teenagers as current students with Glynn Academy High School. Police obtained a search warrant for the location of the incident, and have since questioned the teenagers involved, along with Lehrkamp.
An email from Glynn County School spokeswoman Brittany Dozier sent out to students’ parents stated the following:
“We are aware of the allegations of an off-campus incident that involved several of our former and current students. At this time, Glynn County Police Department is actively investigating this matter, and we are cooperating. Please know that we take very seriously all concerns regarding the safety and well-being of our students, both on and off campus.”
So far, no arrests have been made in relation to the hazing incident.
Hazing Charges in Florida
Although the example case took place outside of the state, it’s important to understand the charges and penalties for hazing in Florida.
Florida law defines hazing as any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to:
- Initiation into any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution;
- Admission into any organization operation under the sanction of a postsecondary institution;
- Affiliation with any organization operating the sanction of a postsecondary institution; or
- The perpetuation or furtherance of a tradition or ritual of any organization operation under the sanction of a postsecondary institution.
The act of hazing can take place in many forms. Typically, hazing has taken place at colleges, universities, or amongst young people by committing:
- Exposure to the elements;
- Forced consumption of any food, alcohol, controlled substance;
- Forced physical activity which could affect the victim’s physical health or safety;
- Forced conduct which may result in embarrassment; or
- Forced activity which could affect the mental health or dignity of the victim.
A person accused of hazing can face either a misdemeanor or felony charge in Florida.
Under Florida Statute Section 1006.63, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor for any person who has intentionally and recklessly commits, attempts to commit, or is actively involved in planning an act of hazing upon another person who is a member, former member, or applicant of any type of student organization which could potentially cause physical or mental harm. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year of imprisonment.
It is considered a third-degree felony for any person who intentionally and recklessly commits, attempts to commit, or is actively involved in planning an act of hazing upon any member, former member, or applicant of any type of student organization which results in the serious bodily injury, permanent disability, or the death of the victim. The penalties for a third-degree felony include up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
Criminal Defense for Minors
Hazing can create serious consequences for teenagers or young people who participate, both personally and legally. Hazing is a criminal offense, and those who engage in it can face serious charges in the state of Florida. The penalties for a hazing offense include fines, imprisonment, community service, probation, or all of the above.
There are other consequences to consider, such as emotional trauma, physical harm, or even death that can result from hazing. For teenagers who are applying to or are enrolled in college, a criminal offense can have a major impact on their social life, academic performance, and future career prospects.
A university that becomes aware of a hazing incident is likely to enforce disciplinary action. Florida universities have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to hazing. Students who are found to have engaged in hazing may face suspension or expulsion from the school.
The possible outcomes make it that much more important to seek out legal help for minors who have been accused of a crime. Even if the accused person is considered a minor, they can still face these harsh consequences. It is important for parents, educators, students, and community members to have a full understanding of these implications and work together to prevent hazing.
For any person who has been accused of a hazing offense, your best shot at fighting your case is by working with a skilled defense attorney in your area.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
When facing criminal allegations, your first step should be getting into contact with a defense attorney near you. An experienced College student criminal defense attorney will review all your case details and work to build a strong defense. Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys have represented clients all across the state of Florida for various offenses. We will fight vigorously for you and your case.
Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today to receive a free consultation.
Written by Karissa Key