Hazing News

Indiana Superintendent Turner-Shear calls alleged sexual attack unfounded: Under Fire

“Unfounded” hazing incident under investigation

Updated: Dec 21, 2007 01:01 AM
Hazing investigation

Sandra Chapman/Eyewitness News

Spencer – Family members of two teenaged boys say freshman hazing at a small Indiana high school is nothing short of criminal.

Last week, both students reported they were violently grabbed, restrained and subjected to lewd sexual acts by a group of athletes.

It happened at Owen Valley High School in Spencer.  That’s just south of Bloomington.

Now the serious allegations are under review by state and local authorities.

Pinned down in the back of the school bus on the way home from a game of hoops, a 15-year old freshman says he was the target of a humiliating initiation by members of the Owen Valley High School basketball team.

“This is an initiation.  That the freshman are going to be got in some fashion.  They did involve private areas — genitals.  The precise definition would be criminal deviate conduct,” said Bloomington Attorney Betsy Greene.

She is representing not one but two freshman at the school who describe vulgar attacks by the same group of athletes.

The second one happened a day after the bus incident before basketball practice.   The student says two players grabbed him in the locker room while another approached exposing himself.

“He was touched in a very inappropriate manner and in inappropriate places,” explained Greene.

That student says he was able to break free.  Parents for both young men involved are furious.  We spoke with one family member by phone.  We’re withholding his name to protect the student’s privacy.

That relative says he’s especially concerned that freshman are the alleged targets. “They’re extremely vulnerable so it’s even much more important that they have somebody in coaching, administration to stand up for them,” he told Eyewitness News.

The families reported the school attacks to the Spencer Police Department.

The department would not allow Eyewitness News to see the report.

At the school, we caught up with the Assistant Superintendent, who told us he could not comment about the situation and referred us to Dr. Marsha Turner-Shear — the Owen Valley Superintendent.

Eyewitness News made several efforts to speak with the Dr. Turner-Shear but our repeated calls to her office were not returned.

The families say they are less than pleased with how it’s all being handled.

“Every member from coaching on up has demonstrated that behind (closed) doors their policy is to avoid conflict, avoid an up-stir,” said the relative.

They want to know if the coaches were aware of the alleged hazing – an experience Greene, who is also a former child abuse prosecutor, says no young man should have to endure.

“It’s my hope that my clients won’t be horribly affected by this.  The goal of the families at this point it to make sure that nothing of this nature happens to another student and that high school,” because according to Greene, “It’s wrong. It’s just wrong.”

Days after Eyewitness News was first notified about the attacks, Superintendent Turner-Shear said the report was unfounded.

Now multiple investigations are underway including a referral to Child Protective Services.

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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