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Austin High School (MN) sexual hazing felony can be erased

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Teen pleads guilty in hazing incident
10/3/2007 10:01:28 AM

By Tim Ruzek

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

An 18-year-old man pleaded guilty this morning to his role in a hazing incident last year after an Austin High School boys hockey captains’ practice.

The man pleaded guilty in Mower Juvenile Court to a felony count of aiding and abetting indecent exposure for the Oct. 26 hazing of a 16-year-old teammate in a locker room at Packer Arena. Another count of gross-misdemeanor fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct will be dismissed. The man was 17 at the time of the incident.

He had been set to begin a half-day bench trial in juvenile court.

Under the plea agreement, he must write a letter of apology and do 80 hours of community service.

The felony will be removed from the man’s juvenile record if he successfully completes six months of supervised probation.

Judge Donald E. Rysavy ordered a predisposition investigation to give him more information on the case to determine if a stay of adjudication would be appropriate for this person.

Sentencing is Nov. 14.

Defense attorney Evan Larson said in court that his client pushed the victim down when the boy entered the locker room. Others held the victim down while another player exposed himself to the victim as part of the hazing, Larson said.

According to the juvenile petition filed in late May, a 16-year-old boy went to police Nov. 2 to report an assault. He told police he was participating Oct. 26 in a captain’s preseason hockey practice at Packer Arena in Austin. Coaches don’t run those practices.

Afterward, team members changed into clothes before going home. The team captains already had left when someone hollered about a hockey meeting in the next room, the petition says. When the boy walked in, the defendant allegedly grabbed him from behind, wrestled him to the floor and held his arms.

Another player who was naked then approached the boy and allegedly tried to make nonconsensual sexual contact with him, but the boy pushed him away. The boy told police he was humiliated and frightened by the incident, which was witnessed by about 10 people.

The defendant and the boy who exposed himself were offered a juvenile diversion program with county corrections rather than facing criminal charges, officials have said. Each signed a contract for the program, but only the other teen, who never was charged, successfully completed the program.

The defendant was charged after failing to complete it.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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