A second former student at the University of Mississippi has confessed to his involvement in hanging a rope and a Georgia state Confederate flag on a campus statue of James Meredith, the first black student to attend Ole Miss.
The act was carried out during the early morning hours of Feb. 16, 2014, authorities say, by three heavily intoxicated freshmen members of the Sigma Phil Epsilon fraternity, which subsequently closed its chapter on the Oxford campus.
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Austin Reed Edenfield, 21, of Atlanta, pleaded guilty on Thursday to a misdemeanor count of aiding and abetting others in an act that threatened African-American students and university employees. He faces a maximum of a year in prison when he is sentenced July 21 by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills.
Federal prosecutors have indicated they will recommend probation because Edenfield provided substantial assistance during the investigation.
When the initial charges were filed, then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the crime a “shameful and ignorant act.”
Last September, Graeme Phillip Harris, 21, of Alpharetta, Ga., was sentenced to six months in prison for his role in the crime. At his sentencing, a defense attorney told the court that under-age drinking was rampant and “racism was blatantly and actively practiced” at the fraternity.
The third individual involved in the incident has not been identified or charged.