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tv   Nightline  ABC  December 15, 2017 12:37am-1:07am EST

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♪ yeah wait wait a minute this is "nightline." >> tonight, frat house nightmare. >> this shouldn't have happened. shouldn't happen to anybody. >> a college freshman dead with an astonishing blood alcohol level after an alleged hazing ritual. his parents speaking out. >> nobody can physically drink that much. you have to be forced to drink it. >> ten former brothers arrested. what this family says they wish they had known about the fraternity. plus amerosa out. the "apprentice" star turned senior staffer exiting her role in the white house. >> the white house is not my ceiling, deborah. it's just the beginning. >> the circumstances leading up
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>> i had concerns. i had some grave concerns. >> and her candid thoughts about the trump administration. >> there was a lack of diversity that i will acknowledge. and at times it was very lonely. whoopi holidays. the hostess with the most gifts. throwing a festive christmas party for children in foster care with a surprise special guest. but first the "nightline 5." >> as soon as i became a parent i changed as a person. drastically. i tried hard to quit smoking. but when we brought our daughter home, that was it. now i have nicoderm cq. >> the patch with extended release technology helps prevent your urge to smoke all day. >> the best thing that's ever happened to me. say thanks, nicoderm cq. every great why needs a great how. >> number one is coming up in just 60 seconds.
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good evening and thank you fare joining us. tonight inside the often abuse-fuelled and sometimes deadly world of college fraternities. the rituals in the name of brotherhood allegedly claiming another young life. tonight one young man's heartbroken parents speaking out demanding answers and hoping for change. here's abc's amy robach. >> i mean, this shouldn't have happened. shouldn't happen to anybody. >> reporter: the tragic news of the death of ray ann and steven gruber's 18-year-old son max came with a phone call. >> they said they had worked on max for 45 minutes, but there was nothing they could do. it's -- the worst call anyone could ever get. you never expect it. >> reporter: it was september 14th.
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police say hours earlier, gruber was at louisiana state university's phi delta theta house, going through a ritual where if you don't answer questions correctly you drink alcohol. he had a blool alcohol level of .495%. >> and that was the next day. so that night i'm sure it was -- it's enough to kill you. >> reporter: a few weeks later, 10 current and former members of that fraternity arrested. according to officials potentially facing charges ranging from misdemeanor hazing to felony negligent homicide. was your son murdered? >> yes. i believe so. nobody can physically drink that much. you can't. you have to be forced to drink it. senseless. >> it's terrible. >> how is making your brother do all these things, humiliating somebody, a brotherhood? how does that bond you? that's what i don't understand. >> reporter: the irony is that the groovers had done something
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college don't do. you were parents who also investigated. and didn't just say, sure, join a fraternity. tell me what you did. you did a lot of due diligence. >> we went on the computer. we looked up on their national chapter. there was no hazing. >> no hazing. >> there was an alcohol-free house. >> we thought, that's great, that's awesome. >> great, max really did a good job, we were hook, line and sinker. like, our son made a great decision with this fraternity. >> reporter: they weren't aware of two complaints made to the school by a concerned student and alumnus nearly a year before max's death, reports some members of that fraternity were excessively drinking, using drugs, and hazing pledges. following an investigation by the university, the practice te fraternity was given a one-month suspension in 2016. did you know of any past complaints about that fraternity? >> no. because if we had found out, just a year ago a fraternity had had a mazing incident, we
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know that this is the one for you. >> reporter: they offered this advice to other parents. >> if you're thinking about a fraternity, ask around about them. don't look at their marketing pieces. because they're showing you all the positives there. ask older students. ask kids that have been around that school for a long time. >> reporter: but they did believe lsu was the right school for their son. this photo showing them dropping max off at school, together for the last time. >> little did i know. i actually have a picture of the last hug. >> reporter: after max's death, phi delta theta wants the authorities to prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. a spokesperson from lsu told abc news that after max's death, the fraternity was placed on interim suspension by the university and that later the fraternity's national organization revoked the charter at lsu. the university also created a greek life task force to review the culture and environment present on lsu's campus in order to highlight
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eliminate any negative or potentially harmful behavior. the potential charges facing the ten former fraternity brothers are pending a grand jury. >> you have tennessee people arrested on a pretty minor crime, maximum 30 days. in jail. but one of them with a serious crime where he could face up to five years. i think there needs to be a much better job done of reminding freshmen in college that hazing can be criminal. >> reporter: abc news reached out to attorneys for the arrested young men. some didn't respond. others declined to comment at this time. but the defense attorney for the student potentially facing the negligent homicide charge told us in a statement, i can't imagine the pain that mr. and mrs. groover must be going through. i think we should let the grand jury hear all of the evidence, apply the law, and render the decision. and a lawyer for another student told us his client was hardly present at the house that
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whose responsibility is it ultimately? is it the university, is it the chapters, is it both? >> i think it's a combination of both. i think even at the state levels, some states have where you can call 911 and not get in trouble if you're in that situation. because they shouldn't be trying to cover it up, hide it, not call, let's see what he does. >> reporter: and ray ann and steven created these purple bracelets to remind kids to speak up when they see excessive drinking. they say it's already helped save lives. what's your message to students? >> that they need to step up. if they see something is wrong. feel empowered. you could possibly be saving somebody's life. >> reporter: they say they draw strength from an essay max wrote when he was 15 years old. they found it in his room after he had passed. >> he says, god works in funny ways. sometimes he does bad to ultimately create good. >> he wrote that. >> he wrote that. so that's given us a lot of strength. >> yes, a lot. >> and perseverance to really try to
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>> reporter: also helping ray ann and steven through this dark time, a family with a tragically similar story. evelyn and jim piazza lost their son timmy last february. a beta thetapi pledge, timothy was at a fraternity ant where he allegedly participated in a drinking challenge called the gauntlet. >> they bring the pledges and make them drink copious amounts of alcohol quickly. >> reporter: prosecutors say he consumed at least 18 drinks of beer, wine, and vodka, all in just an hour and 22 minutes. >> it's awful how much of a coordinated effort that this crew kind of took upon themselves to get him and these other pledges so drunk. >> reporter: piazza eventually suffering a catastrophic fall, tumbling 15 feet down a flight of stairs. but according to a grand jury report, no one immediately called for help. and when someone finally did call 911, 12 hours after the fall-
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>> uh, we have -- we have a friend who's unconscious. he hasn't moved. probably going to need an ambulance. >> reporter: it was too late. >> he was covered with warming blankets. we were trying to find a spot of skin to touch. the nurse told me to kiss him good-bye. it was hard. >> reporter: 26 members of the beta theta pi fraternity face charges connected to the incident. abc reached out to all the defendants and those that responded deny the charges. piazza and groover, just two of the four young men who have died in alleged fraternity hazing incidents this the year. the groovers say the parents of those young men have been a tremendous support for them as they cope with the unimaginable. >> we'll say something to each other, like i hate that we met this way but i'm so happy we have each other. they've guided me a lot. in just a little amount of time. we've gotten very close. >> reporter: for "nightline"
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amy robach in roswell, georgia. >> thanks to amy robach for her reporting. coming up next, amerosa leaving the white house, getting candid about the president and what she calls his racially charged comments. sease. you're more than just a bathroom disease. you're a life of unpredictable symptoms. crohn's, you've tried to own us. but now it's our turn to take control with stelara® stelara® works differently for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease. studies showed relief and remission, with dosing every 8 weeks. stelara® may lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections and may increase your risk of infections and cancer. some serious infections require hospitalization. before treatment, get tested for tuberculosis. before or during treatment, always tell your doctor if you think you have an infection or have flu-like symptoms or sores, have had cancer, or develop any new skin growths, or if anyone in your house needs or recently had a vaccine. alert your doctor of new or worsening problems, including headaches, seizures, confusion, and vision problems. these may be signs of a rare,
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if you watched "the apprentice," you know that omarosa is,s to the least, quite a character. in just 13 years, she has made an astonishing climb from reality show contestant to senior white house staffer. so it is no surprise that just a day after announcing her exit fr
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she is already taking her next steps. here's abc's deborah roberts. >> donald trump has famously said to you many times, you're fired. is that what happened this time? did he say you're fired? >> no, no. you know, i -- the president found out about my resignation by watching the news. >> reporter: when it comes to omarosa, the reality show star turned white house staffer, it seems there's always two sides. she insists she resigned her position from the trump administration. but white house officials tell abc news that she was pushed out by chief of staff john kelley. you're saying you resigned, weren't fired this. >> i resigned after a conversation i had with general kelley, one on one, in the situation room. >> in the situation room? >> well, you know, yes. that's the most secure, private place to have a conversation like this. >> was it a tense conversation? >> absolutely. because i raised issues that i had concerns.
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>> what kind of concerns? >> i talked to him about some concerns that i had about issues, about one very urgent issue and pressing issue that would affect the president. in a big way. >> reporter: and that's all she'll say on that. part of the story she's not ready to tell. at least until after january 20th when her job ends. >> the white house is not my ceiling, deborah, it's just the beginning. >> reporter: with omarosa there's always a story. omarosa manigault has many chapters. once portrayed as the villain on "the apprentice." parlayed into success in her job, the old boss becoming the new boss, office of the public liaison, one of the highest-ranking blacks in the white house. omarosa admits her lone position in the white house isn't easy. i know what it's like to be the only black person at the table. what was that like for you to sometimes be the
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sitting there at a table? >> at times it was very difficult. i worked with 30 assistants to the president. i looked to my left, looked to my right, and the only people who were there were folks that didn't look like you and i. there was a lack of diversity that i will acknowledge. and at times it was very lonely. >> reporter: today the white house insisting that its team is very diverse. president trump offering praise. >> i like omarosa. omarosa is a good person. >> when did you speak to the president last? >> yes, midafternoon. >> you said this morning he wanted you on his tell. is he upset that you're no longer going to be on his team? >> he was sad to learn about my departure. >> reporter: she calls the president a friend since he first fired her on the apprentice. >> omarosa has to go. you're fired. >> reporter: thrusting her into the national spotlight. controversial on reality tv, omarosa brought her penchant for a fight into politics, working briefly as an aide in the clinton white house.
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republican side. quick to defend her friend, then-candidate donald trump, as many saw on "frontline." >> every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to president trump. >> reporter: and today still defending him. even against long-standing accusations of bigotry. does the president understand that a lot of people in minority communities see him as racist? >> i can't speak for what he understands or what he knows. >> do you think this president is racist? >> absolutely not. i would never sit nor work for someone who i believed to be a racist. >> white lives matter! >> reporter: but she says there are some incidents that are hard for even her to defend. when self-professed neo-nazis marched on charlottesville, virginia, the president offered these inflammatory comments. >> you also had people that were very fine people -- >> i believe that america collectively looked at the
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images of white men with torches marching down a southern street, and we all were shocked and repulsed by what we saw. >> yet the president said they were fine people in that crowd and there were bad folks on either side. >> yeah, and i know that -- >> did that concern you? >> absolutely. >> reporter: his words set off a wave of critique from all races and both political parties. congresswoman maxine waters saying the president has turned the white house into the white supremacist's house. >> many people feel that the president at worst is a racist, at best is a sympathizer for white supremacists. is he? >> donald trump is racial. but he is not a racist. yes, i will acknowledge many of the exchanges, particularly in the last six months, have been racially charged. do we then just stop and label him as a racist? no. >> reporter: for many people of color, that's a deal breaker. >> truth be told, she's really a pariah in the african-american community. >> reporter: this cnn clip of
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rejoicing at omarosa's departure going viral. >> bye, honey, you have never represented the community. >> some black people label you a sell-out, "oh, she's a joke." how tough has that been for you? >> deborah, first of all, in this business you can't take anything personal. >> reporter: now omarosa is another name in a list of high-profile departures from the white house. do you worry that you leave somehow tainted by this administration? >> um -- no. that's a very interesting assessment. i hadn't thought about tainted. serving your country should never taint you. >> reporter: after january, omarosa goes back to her personal life. she is a newlywed, after all. married to jacksonville pastor john allen newman. >> i love you, baby. >> you too. >> reporter: don't expect her to stay put for long. omarosa says
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tell when the time is right. were you concerned at all sometimes by the president's tweets? >> i can't wait to talk about his tweets in the future. but i won't do that until i'm out of this office. i can't wait. because there's so many. >> is there a book in the works? sounds like a book. >> it's been 24 hours. you're way ahead of me. >> or a reality show? >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm deborah roberts in new york. next here, inside the christmas party of the year hosted by whoopi goldberg. that cough doesn't sound so good. well i think you sound great. move over. easy booger man. take mucinex dm. it'll take care of your cough. fine! i'll text you in 4 hours when your cough returns. one pill lasts 12 hours, so... looks like i'm good all night. ah! david, please, listen. still not coughing. not fair you guys!
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finally, if any three people can make holiday wishes come true, it's santa, a genie, and our own whoopi goldberg. >> every year i read "the night before christmas" for "nightline." they said, we want to do something different. >> we went with whoopi to the bronx where she spread holiday cheer. >> many kids do not have magic every day so we're making a little magicod
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>> reporter: partnering with the nonprofit one simple wish. and disney's share the joy campaign. to bring early holiday gifts to nearly 50 foster children. >> this is about just being a kid and ripping paper. and getting stuff. >> foster children are fairly invisible population in our country. we wanted to amplify those voices so they knew their simple wishes were just as important as every other child's. >> reporter: there were stories. >> i was asked to read this by my friend santa claus. he said, hey whoopi, can you do me a favor? i would like you to read this story to some young people. so i said i would. 'twas the night before christmas when all through the house not a creature was stirring -- >> when did i become trends with santa? about -- about 70 years ago. >> reporter: music as well from special guest major
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genie from disney's "aladdin" on broadway. ♪ aladdin sir >> reporter: most importantly of all -- >> it's a present! >> reporter: there were presents. for more totion about one simple wish and how they make children's dreams come true, you can visit thanks to whoopi goldberg and all those children. we're wishing them and you a happy holidays. thank you for watching "nightline." as always we're on 24/7 on our "nightline" facebook page. thank you for watching and good night. >> coming to you from caesar's entertainment studios, it's beginner's luck week. our players today are visiting las vegas for the very first time, and i can't think of any better souvenir than a check for a million dollars. so let's play "who wants to be a millionaire." [cheers and applause] [dramatic music]
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welcome to "millionaire." are you guys ready to play? it's beginner's luck week. [cheers and applause] well, all week long, we're playing with folks who have never been to las vegas before, so we're doing something extra special for them. every time one of our players successfully answers the $5,000 question, they not only get that money. they also get this-- free tickets to see jennifer lopez light up the axis with her headlining residency, "jennifer lopez: all i have," at planet hollywood resort & casino. voted best production show by the "las vegas review-journal," the concert includes j.lo's biggest hits like "on the floor," "jenny from the block," and "love don't cost a thing." so our returning contestant, while she's not gonna go to jennifer lopez 'cause she's already passed that $5,000 threshold, let's bring her back and continue her game. from brooklyn, new york, please welcome back beth donovan. [cheers and applause] hey, beth. >> hey, chris.


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