Volleyball arraignment concludes with not-guilty plea

The arraignment of the 11 women charged with Class-A Misdemeanors in connection to the alleged volleyball team hazing occurred on Tuesday Oct. 9 at the Geneseo Village Court.

The defendants are currently charged with unlawfully dealing with a child and hazing in the first degree.

Village Justice Thomas C. Bushnell presided over the arraignment and began the brief proceedings by announcing that the official court trial date is set for Nov. 13. On that date, the case will either be resolved or will be sent to a higher court.

Bushnell then called the defendants and their attorneys to approach the bench and asked if he needed to read the charges against the women. The parties involved unanimously agreed to waive the reading of the charges.

After the proceedings, defendants and attorneys exited the building and were questioned by media covering the event, including Your News Now, 13WHAM-TV and News10NBC.

“It was a simple arraignment where all the young people pled not guilty,” said Tom Eoannou, attorney for junior Alexandra Wende. “Between now and [November] we’ll talk to the district attorney.”

Eoannou said that, though attorneys have not yet met with the Livingston County DA to set a plea deal, a pretrial conference is set for November.

According to Eoannou, a possible outcome for the women charged could be an Adjournment and Contemplation of Dismissal, which entails each woman completing community service and staying out of legal trouble for one year.

Eoannou said that he hopes the punishment for the women will be fair and 
just and that “these kids don’t get stigmatized as they go and look for jobs in the future.”

Daniel Russo, attorney for sophomore Megan Johnson expressed his confusion over the charges against his client, who was a fellow first-year player on the volleyball team.

According to Russo, though Johnson was a transfer student in January, she joined the volleyball team this semester. As this was her first season, she was also subjected to the alleged hazing.

“I’m not sure why she is being charged with hazing or unlawfully dealing with a child,” Russo said. “My client was hazed; she was subjected to handcuffs and blindfolding, alcohol being poured in her mouth just like all these other freshmen.”

“I hope on [November 13] that my case will be dismissed,” Russo continued. “I think at that time the District Attorney will have the opportunity to review it, talk to whatever witnesses he has to talk to, and hopefully he and I will have a meaningful conversation before that date and the case can be resolved.”

Russo also expressed his belief that the DA is taking these allegations “very seriously” due to Geneseo’s history with hazing.

“[Hazing] is a problem at all the SUNY schools. You folks up here have been through this before,” Russo said. “I think the school has to do a better job.”