Hazing News

Hazing in West Michigan

Article, link, excerpt

Updated: May 24, 2007 04:51 AM

By DAN BEWLEYCOOPERSVILLE — There are claims of hazing on the Coopersville High School Junior Varsity baseball team.Four students are suspended and the last four games of the season have been canceled.

The accusations are serious as the superintendent says they can be termed sexual abuse. Now a criminal investigation has opened up.

Coopersville High School Principal Ron Veldman said they got word Friday of some JV baseball players assaulting another player – a 10th grade student – in the boys’ locker room.

“We are looking at these allegations very seriously and trying to determine exactly what happened…determine what happened in different situations and work through it and find all the information we can,” Veldman told 24 Hour News 8.

Veldman says there could be even more victims on the team. While he couldn’t comment further, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department said the alleged assaults could lead to physical or sexual abuse charges – actions the school are not taking lightly.

“We are working to make sure we put in place policy that will address this if needed. And certainly address and deal with the discipline that’s needed in this situation,” Veldman added.

He said the top penalty at school could be expulsion.

24 Hour News 8 spoke on the phone to Superintendent Kevin O’Neill, who said the coach of the team voluntarily resigned. In their talks, the coach seemed to know nothing of the situation.

As for the criminal investigation, the sheriff’s department says it will take its case to the prosecutor later this week.

This is not the first time hazing has been in the news from West Michigan. In January 2003, three Comstock High School students were charged with rubbing their genitals in the face of a freshman football player.

The [Michigan hazing] act was spearheaded by a number of West Michigan lawmakers and hazing resulting in injury is now a misdemeanor. Serious injury or death is a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; 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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