Monday, November 5, 2012

Italy: One American Exchange Student, 20, Stabs Another After Drug-Fueled Halloween Party in Rome

Most foreign study abroad programs are filled with positive expectations, cultural exchange and learning how the rest of the world operates. Unfortunately, they don't always end that way.

Such was the case in the lives of Reid Alexander Schepis, 20, and his best friend, Fabio Malpeso, 19, both of whom were enrolled in foreign study abroad programs in Rome under the sponsorship of John Cabot University.

Yet, after a drug-fueled Halloween party on Thursday (October 31), Schepis stabbed his best friend, Fabio, approximately 25 times while he slept in the apartment the two men shared. Subsequently, Malpeso underwent emergency surgery to repair knife wounds to his lungs and other parts of his body. He is now conscious and is able to communicate with Italian police.

As for Schepis, he was taken into custody and arrested. Sadly, Schepis reportedly has no recollection of what happened. 

On Saturday (November 3) a judge confirmed Schepis' arrest and said he will decide in the next day or so on a defense request that Schepis be held under house arrest. Police have said a motive for the attack is unclear, but they suspect drug- and alcohol-related delirium might be a factor. 

According to defense attorney Vincenzo Comi, who is representing Schepis, his client told the judge that he did not remember anything of stabbing attack on Malpeso. On the night of the incident, Malpeso, Schepis and two unnamed men went to a club called the Atlantic, where they were drinking alcohol, smoking hashish and taking what he was told was ecstasy.

COMMENT: Schepis and Malpeso are both in their second year of university, but are believed to be longtime friends whose parents also know each other. 

A third person, an Italian in his thirties named Andrea Rinaldi, sustained injuries to his arms and hands trying to protect Malpeso from Schepis. Rinaldi has also been hospitalized and is the boyfriend of Malpeso's sister, Federica.

As I have contended for a number of years, universities need to provide the same level of care and oversight to their students who are abroad as they do those who are in resident programs at home.

It is human nature that university-age students will experiment with a combination of drugs and/or alcohol as much abroad as they will at home. This constitutes foreseeability of an event that is likely to occur when university vigilance and monitoring is either absent or diminished.

The reality is that the parents of university students look to institutions of higher learning to ensure that young adults with little life experience are kept safe and that there welfare is being looked after.

Sadly, it has been my experience that university oversight is the weakest where foreign study abroad programs are concerned.