Timothy Piazza’s parents knew what Stacy Parks Miller was going to say before she said it.
Jim and Evelyn Piazza had received a copy of the grand jury report and recommendations the Centre County district attorney released Friday earlier in the day. Their attorney Tom Kline said Parks Miller has also kept them at the table as she has pursued the case of not only what happened to their 19-year-old son at the Beta Theta Pi pledge party in February that led to his death two days later, but why it happened.
The “what” is being answered in criminal court, where the Alpha Upsilon chapter of the fraternity and 26 of its members are facing charges. The “why” could be what they are seeing with the latest release.
The report details a lot of things the Piazzas have been asking for. The couple said they “appreciate the grand jury’s recommendations and wholeheartedly endorse them.”
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The changes are things such as allowing hazing and furnishing alcohol to be more serious crimes than simple second-degree misdemeanors if the act merits it, like a first-degree felony if someone dies.
“We have already begun to pursue the legislative changes with state Sen. Jake Corman and are advocates of the proposed changes and recommendations,” the Piazzas said in a statement released during Parks Miller’s press conference.
But the couple is from New Jersey, not Pennsylvania, and they want to see things changing in more than just the Keystone State.
“The Piazza family has been at the forefront of trying to change the law. Congressman Pat Meehan has introduced a bill that will change the reporting requirement,” their lawyer, Tom Kline, said.
Meehan, R-Pa., introduced the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing Act, which would make campuses include hazing in Clery Act crime and safety data.
The Piazzas were critical of Penn State’s response, which was included in the released report as an exhibit. It detailed hurdles to keeping the fraternities compliant and cooperative, and noted places where they have already addressed steps the report recommended.
Parks Miller framed the response as sarcastic. The Piazzas called it “the same rhetoric we have heard for 10 months.”
“From the beginning, we have discussed many of the recommendations with President (Eric) Barron and have requested, on more than a dozen occasions, to meet with the Penn State board of trustees to discuss our recommendations and the lack of implementation of their own new protocols and changes. Those requests have still not been granted,” the Piazzas said in their statement.
What they do know is that the holidays are about two weeks away, and they will be the first without one of their sons.
“Tim will not be with us this coming Christmas Day because of the failures at Penn State and the criminal activity of those charged,” they said. “If the wisdom of the grand jury prevails, there will be justice accomplished in his name...”