Drunk Penn State Student Falls from Window; Eight Charged
Jan. 30--Eight Penn State students have been charged with furnishing alcohol to minors stemming from an investigation into a 19-year-old woman's fall from a downtown State College apartment window in October.
Paige Raque, a Penn State cheerleader, was seriously injured after falling 39 feet from a fifth-floor window at Calder Commons apartments. State College police said alcohol was being served at a large party in the apartment.
On Tuesday morning, police charged eight university students in connection with the case: Tempest Hourston, 21, Megan Markovitz, 21, Adaire Robinson, 21, Alexandria Hipple, 20, Brooke Piccione, 20, Alyssa Duffy, 19, Julie Hannan, 19, and Madeline Miller, 19. Each student faces misdemeanor charges.
According to police, witnesses said Raque was dancing on a table in the apartment when she lost her balance and fell out of the window. Raque and other members of the Penn State cheerleading and dance teams were attending a birthday party for Piccione, who had just turned 20. Several of the women charged were members of the squads, and have since been removed, Penn State officials said Tuesday.
Various witnesses, including several who haven't been charged and weren't identified, estimated there were between 40 and 60 people in the apartment shared by Piccione, Duffy, Miller, Hipple and Hannan.
Raque, who lived next door to the women, appeared to be visibly intoxicated the night of the party, according to several witnesses.
In a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, police said Hourston, Markovitz and Robinson bought alcohol for the party. According to police, Duffy said five boxes of wine and five large bottles of vodka were served.
While police have not released Raque's blood alcohol content from the night of the fall, they did write in charging documents that an officer detected an odor of alcohol on Raque while helping medical personnel load her into an ambulance.
Raque has not been charged. Police said no underage drinking citations have been filed in the case as of Tuesday.
Police have ruled the fall accidental.
Officers said they don't think additional charges will be filed in the case.
District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said the length of the investigation, which lasted months, is typical in this type of case.
"During the last 12 weeks, the State College Police Department interviewed many witnesses, obtained video evidence from different locations, obtained records through a search warrant, sought electronic orders to secure other evidence, and have performed many other tasks required to substantiate charging eight individuals for multiple counts of furnishing alcohol to minors charges in this matter," Parks Miler said in a statement.
The students also face potential sanctions from the university's Office of Student Conduct, which will receive the police report and conduct its own review, said university spokeswoman Jill Shockey.
Piccione was a member of Penn State dance team and Duffy, Miller, Hourston and Markovitz were all cheerleaders. Robinson was a former member of the squad.
Shockey confirmed Tuesday that Piccione, Duffy, Miller, Hourston and Markovitz have all been removed from their respective teams.
Penn State officials said last week that four cheerleaders had been removed for violating team rules but would not confirm whether the move was related to the Raque investigation.
Raque was seriously injured in the fall, suffering a brain injury and a broken pelvis in the fall. She has since returned to her Kentucky home but still suffers pain from the fall, according to family members.
"We are still concerned for Paige's recovery," Shockey said in an email. "This was a tragic and unfortunate accident that could have been avoided."
A witness who was at the party, but was not charged or identified, told police it was a "freak accident."
The apartment's video surveillance system shows dozens of people running out of the apartment after Raque fell, police said. It also shows young women carrying what appears to be bottles of liquor and boxes of wine from the room to a neighboring apartment before police arrived.
The eight Penn State students charged in the case face misdemeanor counts. State College police said they will receive summonses in the mail and then will face preliminary hearings on the charges in Centre County Court.
A local defense attorney said someone who was found guilty on the charges and who doesn't have a criminal record would receive probation under a standard range sentence. The maximum penalty is two years' incarceration and a $5,000 fine.
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.
Copyright 2013 - Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.)