The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 32.0°F | Overcast

A Troubling End for Fiji

The unsettling end to the criminal investigation into the death of Scott S. Krueger '01 shows the indictments handed down in the case were inherently flawed and amounted to little more than mere political posturing by the Suffolk County District Attorney, Ralph C. Martin II. The case against the local Phi Gamma Delta chapter sputtered to a halt Monday, as the DA filed a motion of default against the group for failing to appear before the court on the charges of hazing and manslaughter.

By indicting an unorganized and now nonexistent group in the case, the DA pursued a short-sighted course of action and left a loophole which, in the end, meant no one had to take any responsibility.

Statements made by Assistant District Attorney Pamela J. Wechsler after Fiji's default further show that the indictments were more for political gain than for justice. The DA's office has not failed to put its own spin on the events of the past year. Wechsler's claims that it was the DA's office that has "run the fraternity out of town, essentially," are petty and exaggerated. Fiji's dormitory license was revoked by the Boston Licensing Board and it was MIT's decision not to support the chapter's reinstatement. The indictment and motion of default only put one more inconsequential nail in the coffin of the already deceased fraternity.

The claims that it was the grand jury investigation that forced MITto revamp its alcohol, discipline, and housing policy are also unfounded. While pressure from the grand jury investigation played a role, both sides say that no deal was struck between the two parties. The DA is exercising extremely poor taste in taking sole credit for changes made at MIT that were caused by many internal and external forces.

In the place of justice, the DA has offered spin. The Tech has stated previously that had the grand jury failed to find sufficient evidence to indict an individual, then no indictments should have been issued. However, according to a statement of the case issued by Wechsler, the grand jury did find sufficient evidence that manslaughter and hazing took place. By not naming those responsible, justice has not been served.

More troubling is the DA's changing definition of who belongs to the indicted group. Martin failed to define the group in court and has offered several conflicting definitions of the group in public statements. This fluid definition indicates that the issue of who was assigned culpability in the case was not a source of great concern. At first, Martin's office had defined the local chapter as those who were living in the MIT chapter of Fiji at the time of Krueger's death. This week, they claimed that it was defined as any group of individuals who chooses to create and belong to a Fiji chapter at MIT, regardless of whether they were members of the fraternity at the time of Krueger's death.

In addition, it is unclear what course of action the DA would take if a Fiji chapter was reformed with entirely new members at MIT or elsewhere. It appears very likely that, if Martin attempted to press the indictments issued against the now disbanded MIT Fiji chapter, those indictments would be promptly dismissed in court.

In the end, the DA's actions have amounted to nothing. Martin's political agenda has clouded his sense of judgement. By indicting a group that in practice could not be forced to take responsibility for its actions, the DAhas done the greater disservice of denying the public any sense of closure in the case.