VILLAGE OF GENESEO, N.Y. -- Nearly a dozen current and former players on the SUNY Geneseo women's volleyball team pleaded not guilty to hazing charges Tuesday evening.
The charges include hazing and unlawful dealing with a child for serving alcohol to minors, both misdemeanors.
The suspects, including three from the Buffalo area, are accused of handcuffing and blindfolding several freshmen players while forcing them to drink massive amounts of liquor; one victim was taken to the hospital where her stomach was pumped.
Investigators say the hazing happened during an "initiation party" at an off-campus apartment complex just across the street from SUNY Geneseo.
Tuesday evening's court proceedings took only a few minutes; some of the suspects pleaded not guilty in person while others were represented by their attorneys.
Tom Eoannou, who represents Alexandra Wende of Clarence, said between now and the next court appearance in November, he and other defense attorneys will meet with the prosecutor. He hopes to make a plea deal.
"You would hope that at the end of the day the prosecutor does not choose to stigmatize these young ladies with criminal convictions," Eoannou said. "They all have careers. They're all going to college. Thankfully nobody was seriously hurt. There are a lot of remedies short of a criminal conviction that can be looked at here."
Eoannou said his client was not a main participant in the hazing, but he added in light of the allegations, the school's decision to cancel the rest of the season was probably appropriate.
"Hazing is a serious thing," Eoannou said. "The school reacted quickly and strictly, and I really cannot disagree with that."
SUNY Geneseo leaders are considering disciplinary action, which could include probation or suspension if students are found to have violated the rules regarding hazing and/or underage drinking.
In addition to Wende, two other suspects are from the Buffalo area -- Alysia Negron of Buffalo and Julia Gangloff from Lancaster. 2 On Your Side has not been in contact with their attorneys.