The family of former Beta Theta Pi brother Michael Bonatucci is speaking out against the charges levied against the Penn State freshman for his alleged role in the death of Timothy Piazza.
"The serious charges against Michael are of course devastating to him and to our entire close-knit family," wrote the family in a statement released through Bonatucci’s lawyer, Rocco Cipparone.
The family also expressed their sorrow for the Piazza family.
“Our hearts go out to the Piazza family for their unfathomable loss."
Bonatucci faces the most serious charges of aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter, along with seven other brothers for their alleged roles in the death of Piazza, who died two days after suffering injuries at a pledging event at the fraternity house.
Eighteen former Beta Theta Pi brothers were charged, in addition to the fraternity corporation. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 12.
Cipparone called the charges into question as they related to Bonatucci's alleged actions.
"The Commonwealth has instituted serious charges against Michael which simply do not fit the facts and evidence known to date as to Michael Bonatucci,” Cipparone wrote in the release.
The grand jury presentment mentions Bonatucci working one of the stations in the "gauntlet" — a drinking ritual designed to get pledges intoxicated quickly.
Cipparone further explained the lack of interaction Bonatucci was charged with in the grand jury presentment.
"There is no indication in that very detailed presentment that Michael personally provided any alcohol to Mr. Piazza; that Michael saw or was aware that Mr. Piazza fell; that Michael saw any bruising or injury to Mr. Piazza; that Michael engaged in the alleged “backpacking” as to Mr. Piazza; that Michael had any physical contact with Timothy Piazza before, during or after he fell; or that Michael participated in any alleged debate about Timothy Piazza’s condition or what to do about it,” Cipparone wrote.