updated 1/3/2009 7:34:20 PM ET 2009-01-04T00:34:20

A fraternity and sorority at Utah State University were charged with felony hazing after an 18-year-old freshman pledge died of alcohol poisoning.

The school's chapters of the Sigma Nu fraternity and Chi Omega sorority were each charged Friday with one count of third-degree felony hazing for their involvement with the death of Michael Starks. Prosecutors also filed misdemeanor hazing charges against 12 students, including the chapter president of Sigma Nu.

The students face a year in jail if convicted, while punishment for the chapters is unclear.

"You obviously can't put the entity in jail, but you can affect their corporate nature and their ability to continue to act as an association or an entity," Cache County Attorney George Daines said.

Starks, of Salt Lake City, was found not breathing at the Sigma Nu residence and pronounced dead at a hospital after paramedics couldn't revive him. His blood alcohol content was higher than 0.35 percent, more than four times the legal limit to drive an automobile, authorities said.

A probable cause document said that Starks and another pledge were abducted by women from the sorority, bound with duct tape, and given vodka.

But the Herald Journal of Logan reported that the statement also said Starks was not forced to drink the alcohol.

Utah's hazing statute allows for charges to be filed even if the victim consented to the abuse as long as the person was younger than 21.

Daines said previous pledges underwent similar initiation ceremonies.

"The fraternity has to be held accountable," George Starks, the student's father, told The Salt Lake Tribune. "It's a system, a machine that envelops the kids. Any one of those kids could have said, 'Wait a minute, this isn't a good thing.'"

The two organizations declined to comment until they read the charges.

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