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Woman speaks out about involvement in USU student's death



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LOGAN -- It's been four months since a Utah State University student died of alcohol poisoning related to a fraternity initiation. Now, the first student to plead guilty to hazing charges is speaking out.

Sadie Green was one of the Chi Omega sorority sisters involved in the initiation, and one of 12 students charged with misdemeanor hazing. She pleaded guilty because she didn't want to fight or prolong her case, but from our conversation today, she defends much of what happened that night.

Nov. 21, 2008, 18-year-old Michael Starks died from alcohol poisoning. It's a day 19-year-old Green wishes she could change.

"I mean I'd change a lot, like not let him drink so much, or maybe not even have alcohol. It's always the what if," she said.

Green was one of the Chi Omega sorority sisters involved in the initiation. "They are captured. And then their brothers come and get them, and it's a fun night. It's just to build the bonds between the boys," she explained.

Prosecutors say sorority members captured Starks and another pledge and took them to a house. From there, charging documents state that the sisters painted the pledges' bodies blue and white, USU's school colors.

Investigators say the young men started drinking from two bottles, one of which was vodka.

"We were all having a good time. We were all laughing. There was no problem, no fight about anything," Green said.

She says at no point did she or anyone else force them to drink. That's the reason she doesn't believe what they did was hazing.

When asked if she thinks they crossed a line, she replied, "I don't think so, because nobody was unhappy. Nobody was forced to do anything they didn't want to do. So honestly, no."

Green says the last time she saw Starks was right outside the house. It was after the initiation when everything appeared to be OK.

Prosecutors say Starks passed out at the Sigma Nu house and stopped breathing around 3:45 a.m. He was transported to the hospital, where he died.

Now Green is trying to move on, spreading the word about underage binge drinking.

"People need to be careful, because I never in a million years would have thought this would have happened," she said.

The Starks family has a civil suit against the students, fraternity and sorority.

Green's slate will be wiped clean after a year's probation. She also has to complete 50 hours of speaking to high schools about underage drinking and pay a $200 fine.

E-mail: ngonzales @ksl.com

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