Lawmakers plan to introduce bill to criminalize hazing in honor of Lofton Hazelwood
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — Two Kentucky lawmakers plan to introduce legislation next year to make hazing a crime in the state.
Sen. Robby Mills (R-Henderson) and Rep. Jonathan Dixon (R-Corydon) were joined by 18-year-old Lofton Hazelwood’s parents during the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary Thursday. Hazelwood was a University of Kentucky student and Henderson native who died of alcohol toxicity at a fraternity house last year, the lawmakers said. The bill will be known as Lofton’s Law in his honor.
According to Mills and Dixon’s proposed anti-hazing legislation, hazing is defined as an action that endangers the mental or physical health of a minor or student for the purpose of recruitment, initiation into, affiliation with/or enhancing or maintaining membership or status within any organization. Activities that would be considered hazing under this law include causing, coercing or forcing a minor or student to violate federal or state law; consuming any food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, drug, tobacco product or other controlled substance; enduring physical brutality, enduring sexual brutality and other activities that endanger the person’s physical and mental health.
If the bill passes, a person would be guilty of first-degree hazing if he or she intentionally or wantonly participates in hazing that results in serious physical injury or death. A person would be guilty of second-degree hazing if he or she recklessly participates in the act of hazing.
Lofton’s mother, Tracey Hazelwood, shared her son’s story with the committee, saying the hazing at the fraternity her son was attempting to join began weeks before his death, with members forcing her son to drink alcohol, participate in vandalism, chew tobacco until he vomited and more.
“I beg that you please consider this bill,” she told the committee. “We need Lofton’s Law in place as soon as possible. It’s not going to bring my son back, but it might save somebody else’s son.”
The 2023 legislative session begins on Jan. 3.