A civil suit filed by attorneys representing Cory and Shari Foltz claims Bowling Green State University "turned a blind eye to hazing" while promoting "fraternities and sororities" on campus
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Stone Foltz
Stone Foltz
| Credit: Gofundme

The parents of a 20-year-old Bowling Green State University student who died after a hazing incident involving alcohol have filed a civil lawsuit against the school, seeking at least $50,000 in damages.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Cory and Shari Foltz claims the Ohio school is culpable for the March 7, 2021, death of their son Stone Foltz, alleging administrators there have only ever reacted to hazing incidents, and have taken no actions to deter fraternities from engaging in hazing rituals.

For years, the suit alleges, "BGSU turned a blind eye to hazing within the Greek organizations on its campus while encouraging students like Stone to join its fraternities and sororities."

The suit accuses the school of fostering a hazardous environment for its students.

The suit further contends that the school "receives millions in fraternity alumni donations and receives additional income from Greek Village housing which perhaps explains why Bowling Green acts only after the hazing has already occurred."

Stone Foltz drank himself to death during an off-campus Pi Kappa Alpha initiation event where he and other fraternity pledges were allegedly encouraged to consume excessive amounts of alcohol. 

The sophomore died three days later in the hospital on March 7 from alcohol poisoning after he drank an entire fifth of bourbon.

"Stone Foltz would not have died were it not for BGSU's gross recklessness, lax policies, lax enforcement of those policies, promotion of [Pi Kappa Alpha's] Delta Beta Chapter, perfunctory 'investigations,' and willful inaction in the face of repeated warnings," the lawsuit alleges.

The suit adds: "Unbeknownst to the Foltz family, sending Stone to BGSU was a death sentence."

Cory Foltz, left, and his wife, Shari, right, testify before the Ohio Senate Workforce and Higher Education Committee in support of an anti-hazing bill on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio
Cory and Shari Foltz
| Credit: Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispatch/USA Today

The school banned the fraternity in April 2021.

The lawsuit also contends "this case will be the model for requiring every University to institute far more proactive measures to stop hazing on college campuses."

In a statement to WTOL, university spokesperson Alex Solis called Stone's death "a tragedy," adding, "what his family has endured is unimaginable."

"However," the statement continues, "this lawsuit is meritless and undermines our continued efforts to eradicate hazing."

The statement notes the school is "resolved in our legal position, and as a state-supported university, we will defend our community vigorously against this action. This will not deter our goal to continue to foster a community of care that serves our students and their families."

Since Stone's death, six men, who were also members of the fraternity, have pleaded guilty to various criminal charges in connection with the incident, including reckless homicide, evidence tampering, obstruction of justice and hazing.

Daylen Dunson, 21, of Cleveland was sentenced to 21 days in jail, 28 days house arrest and three years probation after pleading guilty to 19 counts. New Yorker Jarrett Prizel, 19, was sentenced to 28 days in jail, 28 days of house arrest and two years probation.

Benjamin Boyers, 21, of Sylvania, Ohio, received 28 days home confinement and two years probation. Pennsylvania resident Niall Sweeney, 21, was sent to jail for 24 days, and has to serve 28 days house arrest and two years probation. Aaron Lehane, 21, of Loveland, Ohio, was also sentenced to 28 days home confinement and two years probation.

Canyon Caldwell, 21, will be sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to hazing and obstructing justice.

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Troy Henricksen, 24, and Jacob Krinn, 21, were the only two to stand trial. Both were convicted — Krinn for hazing, obstructing official business and failure to comply with underage alcohol law, and Henricksen for eight counts of hazing and seven counts of failure to comply with underage alcohol laws.

They will be sentenced on Aug. 17.

Cory and Shari Foltz continue to meet with legislators, pushing for the passage of an anti-hazing bill designed to prevent future deaths.