WASHINGTON — The mother of a Cornell University student is suing a fraternity for $25 million after her son was allegedly kidnapped, bound and forced to drink large amounts of alcohol that led to his February death.
George Desdunes, a sophomore at the prestigious Ivy League school, called the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house in the early morning hours of February 25 to ask for a ride back to his room, but a hazing ritual ensued instead, according to the lawsuit filed by his mother Marie Lourdes Andre.
Freshman pledges kidnapped Desdunes in what is part of a "long-standing ritual that was authorized and encouraged by SAE chapter offices and members," said the lawsuit filed in New York's Kings Country Supreme Court.
The 19-year-old human ecology student was bound by his wrists and ankles with zip ties and duct tape, quizzed on SAE history and forced to drink high amounts of alcohol.
After he lost consciousness, the pledges left him to die on a couch at the fraternity house -- his wrists and ankles still bound, according to court documents.
Desdunes was unresponsive in the morning when Cornell personnel found him. His blood alcohol level was .409 percent hours after the hazing activities, more than five times the legal limit for driving in New York state.
He died in hospital later that day.
"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," Andre said in a statement.