A year after the death of a teenager in Uniondale, his family says they want justice and tougher hazing laws at colleges during a memorial service for Marquise A. Braham in Floral Park on Saturday. Braham, 18, committed suicide last year on Long Island on the day he was supposed to return to Penn State Altoona, where he was a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.
"I believe Marquise's death is directly connected to the abusive behavior and rituals conducted by the fraternity at Penn State University," his father, Richard Braham, said at the service at Our Lady of Snows Church.
Richard Braham, 48, of Rosedale, Queens, a managing editor at ABC News, said a stream of stories in the past year about deaths from hazing, date rape and a recent racist chant in Oklahoma show the dark side of fraternities. "When you have easy access to drugs, large quantities of alcohol, consumed by underage drinkers with little supervision, a lot of dangerous things can happen," he said.
About 100 people attended the Catholic Mass, sitting before two photographs of Marquise Braham and a drawing of the young man with Jesus Christ. His father, mother Maille, sister Selene, 16, and brother Sebastien, 9, sat in the front row of a service that was a somber and at times humorous celebration of the young man's life.
In September Penn State Altoona suspended Phi Sigma Kappa for six years. Family spokesman Mike Paul said the family has asked the Pennsylvania attorney general's office to investigate the death. A spokeswoman for the attorney general would neither confirm nor deny any investigation.
Marquise Braham was a 2013 graduate of Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale. At Penn State Altoona he joined the fraternity and quickly became its secretary. Family members said that evidence on his computer and cellphone led them to believe that the fraternity hazing rituals had played a role in his suicide.
Richard Braham said he wants a federal law to make it illegal for freshmen students to pledge in fraternities.
"I want the legacy of Marquise's death to be saving lives," he said after the service.
Marquise Braham's aunt Marie Menelas, a social worker in Milton, Massachusetts, said her nephew had a deep relationship with God.
"He was a good kid, he loved everybody," Menelas said.