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Bakersfield, CA camp update on allegations by mother and son

Excerpt from KGET 17 follows: The mother of a 10-year-old boy, whom detectives said was the victim of a camp hazing, said parents need to take precautions to make sure their kids don’t become victims, too.A local teenager already faces sexual battery charges in connection with last year’s incident at a Kern County camp.

Michelle Brown said her son is devastated, and so is she.

“Besides one of my kids dying, that is like the worst news that a parent could ever get,” Brown said.

She said her son was harassed and humiliated by a 16- and 17-year-old camp counselor during a week-long summer program at Camp Condor near Pine Mountain.

It started with wrestling.

“The boys, the older boys, the counselors, put their crotches in their face, and made like humping motions,” Brown said. “They said their clothes weren’t taken off or anything.”

Brown said it left her son emotionally scarred, and her angry.

She said camp administrators didn’t notify her of what happened, so she sent her son back to camp for a second week.

“It infuriated me because my son was up there around the two boys, because they didn’t send them home,” said Brown. “They just put them on maintenance, so my son had to go back up there and see them.”

The camp’s treasurer said she immediately filled out a report and contacted the Sheriff’s Department.

Detectives investigated and eventually the teenage counselor was charged.

“The counselor and counselor-in-training were asked to leave the mountain immediately,” said Camp Condor Treasurer Maryanne Hawkins.

The camp, Hawkins said, does not condone the accused teens’ type of behavior.

“In fact, all counselors went through training prior to kids arriving at camp,” Hawkins said.

Brown said she’s pressing for criminal charges for her son’s attackers, or at least counseling.

“Obviously they need help,” she said. “That’s not normal to do to a little kid.”

The mother of one of the counselors charged in the case said he’s a good kid who has never been in trouble with the law.

She declined to be interviewed on camera, but said she will fight her son’s charges because the camp knew about and accepted the hazing practices.

That is an allegation the camp adamantly denies.

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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