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Hazing News

1959 Death of Henry A. Sherwood, athletic hazing, with Coach Don Smith present

1959

Yakima High School (Washington State); Moxee School District

Letterman’s Club

Paddling of new members wearing burlap sacks; under supervision of a coach

Henry A. Sherwood, the unlucky one of 16 initiates, drowned wearing a burlap sack after submitting to a paddling. Head football coach Donald L. (Don) Smith was present and overseeing the paddling and subsequent tragedy. School officials took no swift action in the week following the death, and Smith and up to 40 players were questioned by a prosecutor. The parents sued, lost, and won an appeal charging the Moxee school district with negligence that sent the case to trial. News  Clipping here.

The case challenged Washington’s flawed law that a school somehow had a sovereign right not to be sued for negligence.

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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