Florida A&M University said in court papers filed this week that the drum major in their marching band 'should have refused to participate' in the hazing that resulted in his death after a football game last November.
The University is seeking to have a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the parents of 26 year old Robert Champion dismissed. Thirteen fellow students have been charged in the death but the university maintains it is not responsible.
'Respectfully, as a 26 year old adult and leader in FAMU's band, Mr. Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or University administrators,' they stated in court papers. 'Under these circumstances, Florida's taxpayers should not be held financially liable to Mr. Champion's Estate for the ultimate result of his own imprudent, avoidable and tragic decision and death.'
The victim's parents, Pam and Robert Champion Sr., blasted the university for its legal filing.
'My reaction is that the school did not take the responsibility to keep my son safe,' Champion Sr. said.
His wife added, 'To get a paper that says that he's responsible for his own death -- as a mother, I have to wonder what kind of people are we entrusting our students to.'
Champion was pummeled aboard a bus by fellow band members after a performance against a rival school. Eleven people have been charged with hazing resulting in death which is a felony. Two others face misdemeanor charges. The felony and misdemeanor offenses could result in nearly six years in prison if there is a conviction.
More serious charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter were not pursued by prosecutors.