TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A Florida A&M band member beaten so badly she could barely walk was a freshman on a full scholarship who believed she had no choice but to be a part of the hazing rituals, her attorney said Tuesday.
Bria Shante Hunter was punched in the legs and hit with spatula, notebook binders and rulers over two consecutive days because she tried to get out of meeting for a secret group of Georgia natives known as the "Red Dawg Order," and because she could not properly recite information about the clique, her attorney and authorities said.
Three marching band members, all men, have been charged with hazing in the beating of Hunter, who was hit so hard she broke her thigh and had blood clots in her legs, authorities said. At least two of the men said they plan to plead not guilty.
The arrests marked the first details from authorities about the secret rituals this fall among the famed Marching 100 band.
"It's part of the school. It's the best band in the country and you want to be embraced," said Hunter's attorney, B.J. Bernstein. "You really have no choice but to be a part of it and that's why the school must step in."
Police said Hunter, who played clarinet, was beaten about three weeks before drum major Robert Champion died during what was believed to be hazing on a band bus. Investigators have not said exactly what happened to Champion. He was also a clarinet player, and like Hunter, from Georgia.
Hunter's attorney said she didn't know anything about Champion's case or whether her client had talked with him.
Champion's death set off several investigations of the marching band and school administrators who appear to have long known about the hazing tradition.
Hunter, in an interview with Orlando station WFTV-TV, was asked why band members take part in hazing.
"So we can be accepted," she said. "If you don't do anything, then, it's like you're lame."