By Barbara Liston
(Reuters) - Three Florida A&M University marching band members were in jail early on Tuesday after being charged in a hazing-related beating that broke a freshman's leg, police said on Tuesday.
Students Sean Hobson, 23, and Aaron Golson, 19, were arrested Monday on charges of hazing and felony battery in connection with the beating of 18-year-old Bria Hunter, according to police in Tallahassee, Florida. Band member James Harris, 22, also was charged with hazing.
In interviews with police, Hobson and Harris denied the charges. Golson was not interviewed, according to the probable cause affidavit.
At a court hearing on Tuesday, a judge set bonds for Golson and Hobson at $10,000 each and at $2,500 for Harris.
The alleged hazing of Hunter in an off-campus apartment occurred less than three weeks before drum major Robert Champion, 26, died after suspected hazing on the band bus following the annual Florida Classic football game and marching band show in Orlando on November 19.
Champion's death, which remains under investigation, has roiled the university and put a national spotlight on hazing rituals in the world-famous Marching "100" band.
University President James Ammons was reprimanded last week by the FAMU board of trustees, band director Julian White has been placed on administrative leave with pay, and four band students are facing expulsion.
Hunter told police she was beaten after she was forced to attend an October 31 meeting at Harris' apartment of the "Red Dawg Order," which is a club within the band for members from the state of Georgia, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Hunter said she did not want to go to the meeting and initially made up an excuse. For lying, Hunter said, she was ordered to lift her legs as if she was marching and was punched on the top of her thighs more than 20 times by Hobson and Golson, the affidavit states.
Hunter told police she was beaten again on November 1 at Harris' apartment, and that this time Hobson hit her thighs with a metal ruler, the affidavit said.
Hunter told police she endured "excruciating pain" for a week before being taken by ambulance to a hospital, where doctors determined she had suffered a fractured femur, blood clots in her legs and deep bone bruising.
Three other club pledges corroborated Hunter's account in sworn statements, stating that they were hit on the backs of their heads and necks for being unable to accurately recite certain club information, according to the affidavit.
University spokeswoman Sharon Saunders said she had no knowledge of any other specific hazing cases currently under investigation.
"The board of trustees and President Ammons hope that through these arrests all involved in perpetuating this culture will really begin to view hazing as a serious matter," Saunders said in a statement.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)