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A Central Michigan University student faces a misdemeanor hazing charge in an incident in which peanut butter was smeared on the face of a peanut-allergic college student who was unconscious.
Dale Merza, 20, of Rochester Hills, Michigan, turned himself in at Isabella County District Court on Friday after the Mount Pleasant Police Department issued a warrant for his arrest. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, he could face up to 93 days in prison, a $1,000 fine or both. His lawyer told the Detroit Free Press that he believes his client will not be found guilty of any kind of hazing.
Police began investigating the incident after the victim’s mother, Teresa Seely, posted photos of her son Andrew’s badly swollen face to Facebook in March. Andrew Seely suffered an anaphylactic reaction as a result of the peanut butter smearing and sought medical help at the campus clinic.
The Seely family is glad the case will be brought before a judge. “We hope that the individuals involved realize that Andrew could have died because they exposed him to peanut butter,” Teresa told Allergic Living. The family has shared Andrew’s story because they want to prevent this type of dangerous behavior in the future.
“For someone who is allergic to any type of food, exposure could lead to a life-threatening situation. Families with food allergies know the implications and the dangers of food threats, including death,” Teresa says.
Andrew, 19, was a student at Central Michigan University and was in the process of pledging to an off-campus fraternity, where the incident is alleged to have taken place last October. The now-former-CMU student didn’t come forward to tell his family about it until the first week of March. Andrew spent one semester at CMU before transferring to another college because of the incident.
Merza, the student who was charged, works as security at a local nightclub and is taking broadcast media at Central Michigan, according to his Linkedin profile.