Penn State trainer says he had no role in frat party that ended with pledge’s death

1 Philadelphia

Philadelphia News & Search

1 News - 1 eMovies - 1 eMusic - 1 eBooks - 1 Search

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — The 56-year-old Pennsylvania State University football trainer who was living in a campus fraternity in February when a sophomore pledge died said he had no role in the house party that night and didn’t know the teen was left to die on a couch after an alleged night of booze-soaked hazing.

“I would in no way, shape or form give permission” for alcohol abuse or a drinking “gauntlet,” the trainer, Tim Bream, testified Wednesday.

His appearance on the witness stand came as a preliminary hearing that first started in June resumed for the Beta Theta Pi members accused of fatally hazing 19-year-old Tim Piazza. When it ends later this week, Judge Allen Sinclair is expected to rule if the defendants should be held for trial and on what charges.

Piazza, a 19-year-old from Lebanon, N.J., died Feb. 4 from a non-recoverable head injury, ruptured spleen, and collapsed lung. Prosecutors say his injuries occurred at a frat initiation party that started on the night of Feb. 2. Piazza was among pledges who participated in a drinking gantlet, and later fell down stairs and was left to languish on a couch. No one called for emergency help until almost 12 hours later.

The 18 defendants face varying charges, including involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, hazing, and tampering with evidence.

Bream isn’t charged in the case but was a live-in adviser to the fraternity. Questions about his presence at the now-closed house before Piazza’s death have continued to swirl, with some attorneys suggesting he should share culpability.

Centre County prosecutors have said Bream, a former Chicago Bears head trainer, had reported being in his room, a suite on the second floor, during the alcohol part of the party but had no role in the event. District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller told the judge the attempts to turn the spotlight onto Bream are “just a distraction.”

But Sinclair said he would allow Leonard G. Ambrose III, the lawyer for Joe Sala, a frat member from Erie, to question Bream.

Taking the stand, Bream testified that he doesn’t drink, never did, and as a trainer, cautions young men that alcohol can be “poison” to their bodies. He also said he advises them if they do have more than one drink “sip the second, and deny the third.”

He said when he left the house around 5 a.m. on the morning after the party, he didn’t see Piazza on the couch or anywhere.

During the hearing in July, Frank Fina, lawyer for fraternity president Brendan Young, noted a text message included in the grand jury presentment that said it was “Tim’s idea” to delete an online chat about the event after Piazza’s death.

On the witness stand, Bream did acknowledge that he told the house members not to use social media to discuss what happened after Piazza’s death. Ambrose tried to press him about texts among the defendants suggesting they delete the transcript of a group chat after Piazza’s death. But the judge ruled he need not answer the questions because Ambrose’s client was not part of that text conversation.

Piazza’s parents, Jim and Evelyn, and their lawyer, Tom Kline, also have said they believe Bream is a “culpable party” in Piazza’s death. The Piazzas have asked Penn State to fire Bream.

“The university is investigating all aspects of what occurred at the Beta Theta Pi house,” university spokeswoman Lisa Powers said last month. “Student conduct and personnel matters are confidential.” Powers said Monday that hasn’t changed.

Powers said Bream, a Gettysburg native who was with the Bears for nearly 20 years, took the Beta Theta Pi adviser job in fall 2016.

More Coverage

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

1 Philadelphia

Philadelphia News & Search

1 News - 1 eMovies - 1 eMusic - 1 eBooks - 1 Search



Leave a Reply