Drum major's parents applaud manslaughter charges

12 charged in Robert Champion's death

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The parents of a Florida A&M University drum major who died during a hazing ritual in 2011 say manslaughter charges against the accused are appropriate.

Pamela and Robert Champion Sr. spoke Tuesday, one day after the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office upgraded the charges in Robert Champion Jr.'s death.

Twelve former FAMU band members now face manslaughter charges in the 26-year-old's death.

His parents, along with their family attorney, Christopher Chestnut, say the new charges serve as prevention and accountability.

"The word hazing does not depict what has been done to my son or to any other individual," Pamela Champion said. "The word hazing itself puts a very light term. As you can see, people don't take it as seriously as what it is. But it certainly is much more serious."

"Had FAMU answered the pleas of decades of hazing, had FAMU done that, Robert Champion would be alive and these 12 people would not be charged," Chestnut said. "This was a preventable act."

Of the 12 former students facing manslaughter charges, 10 of them had been previously charged with felony hazing resulting in death. Prosecutors then chose to charge two more ex-band members.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Investigators say Champion was beaten aboard a school bus after a football game in Orlando in November 2011.

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