Hazing News

Friday Night Tykes revisited: football camp allegations: Call Officer Peck if you have info

Read the whole story here from Trib Live:

Authorities in Somerset County say the Homestead-based Steel Valley Midget Football Association ran a football camp in Laurel Hills State Park last month that allowed and encouraged hazing and physical abuse.

Somerset District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said “Camp Ruffhouse,” which ran for 11- to 14-year-olds from July 7-12, first came to police attention when park-goers reported that an 11-year-old camper was being assaulted along a park road by two older campers. He told officers he was running away from the camp because of abuse from other campers and “mistreatment” by coaches, Lazzari-Strasiser said.

Another camper’s family contacted police after he came home from camp with a black eye and swollen lip, reporting that the younger players were routinely hazed by the older ones.

“Both juveniles report that camp staffers were told about the chronic abuse…but the problems were never addressed,” Lazzari-Strasiser said. “Rather, they report that campers who complained were called snitches, told by coaches to hit their aggressors back, and even punished by being made to run laps or stand in the middle of hitting drills.”

The District Attorney’s Office filed two counts each of endangering the welfare of childen, a third-degree felony, against Steel Valley Midget Football Association Director Aaron Knight, Executive Director Loren Ford and Camp Director/Leader Michael Todd.

The charges were filed with Magisterial District Judge Sandra Stevanus Wednesday. Court documents showed Knight and Todd had been arraigned and released on $75,000 unsecured bonds, but Ford’s paperwork did not yet show his status as of late Wednesday morning.

The District Attorney’s Office noted that the football association wouldn’t give investigators a list of campers, so investigators are asking anyone with information who attended the camp to contact Laurel Hill State Park rangers at 814 445 7725 and ask for Officer Peck.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

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 current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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