Teammates charged in UMD rugby liquor case

Tim Sturrock

Three senior members of the University of Minnesota Duluth men’s rugby team were charged Tuesday with furnishing alcohol to a minor at a party attended by a 19-year-old rugby player who was found dead in a nearby creek three days later.

Ken Christiansen, a University of Minnesota Duluth freshman and rookie on the team, was last seen by a friend when the two walked home after the April 13 party. Duluth police found Christiansen’s body three days later in Chester Creek with a blood alcohol count just under 0.22 – twice the legal limit to drive.

Medical examiner reports indicated Christiansen died of hypothermia.

According to the criminal complaint, Kevin McGuigan, 22, the president of the team; Wesley Omer, 21, a captain; and Brian Warden, 22, the team’s treasurer, held the party at their house shortly after a rugby business meeting.

The complaint said no effort was made to check IDs, and it was common knowledge that some team members, including Christiansen, were underage.

Warden and McGuigan allegedly bought two kegs for the party; Warden paid with a check from the rugby team and McGuigan signed for the receipt.

The complaint says police found Christiansen with magic marker on his face and that senior players drew on rookies’ faces as part of their initiations.

Christiansen’s death prompted UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin to suspend all activity of the men’s and women’s rugby teams until after a review at the end of fall semester 2001.

Until then, rugby players will have to take an alcohol awareness class at their own expense.

Zachary Serre, Christiansen’s friend and fellow rookie player, told police he and Christiansen separated as they left the party early Friday morning, and he said he assumed Christiansen had taken another route. Christiansen’s friends filed a report with the police Friday evening.

Mark Rubin, assistant St. Louis county attorney, said it is likely no other charges will be filed.

Martin issued a statement Tuesday saying UMD officials are sorry the three players were charged and hope that students will be more responsible with alcohol.

The three face up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Tim Sturrock covers cops and courts and encourages comments at
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