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Howland High School: no contest in sexual hazing — Dec 7, 2004

VINDY.COM
The Valley’s Home Page Wrestler pleads no contest to hazing misdemeanor

Published: Tue, Dec 7, 2004

The law director complained of a lax investigation by school officials.

WARREN — Court officials issued strong warnings about inappropriate behavior to a Howland High School wrestler and to officials supervising the program.

Ray Crawford, 18, of Allenwood Drive appeared Monday before municipal Judge Terry Ivanchak on a charge of gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony. That charge was reduced after a series of deliberations between the prosecution and defense, and agreement of the victim’s family, to disorderly conduct, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.

Crawford pleaded no contest.

There remains some question as to whether what happened Nov. 22 in the high school gym locker room was a ritual rite of passage or an activity that got out of hand, city Law Director Greg Hicks explained after the hearing.

“This wasn’t an isolated incident, I don’t believe,” he said.

Disagreement

There is also some disagreement among witnesses as to whether Crawford and a juvenile co-defendant exposed their genitals to a freshman, Hicks said.

He said there clearly was improper conduct, despite Howland schools’ position that the situation didn’t happen as described.

“I’m disappointed in Howland schools, in that they didn’t conduct an investigation a little more thoroughly,” said Hicks, who stressed that he has no jurisdiction in the school district.

He said that it’s not the first time such an incident, known as tea bagging, has occurred there — and that Howland coaches need to better watch what goes on.

Superintendent John Rubesich could not be reached to comment.

Court action

Judge Ivanchak accepted Crawford’s no contest plea and said the sentence would be determined at the end of the school year, after Howland’s commencement in June. He could receive 30 days in jail, a $100 fine or both.

The plea is not expected to interfere with Crawford’s choice of entering the military.

“It was the correct result, after talking with the victim, the victim’s family and the witnesses as to how this all went down,” Hicks said.

Judge Ivanchak warned Crawford and, indirectly, four other well-dressed teens

in the courtroom that no revenge should be

directed toward the freshman.

“What happens between now and when you come back will affect what happens in this court environment,” the judge said. “The worst thing that could happen to you is for something to happen to him.”

A county juvenile court charge is pending against the co-defendant.

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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