Hazing News

Local paper says basketball camp host Lyon College and its athletic director named in suit alleging sexual assault by East Carter basketball players

and an excerpt from Batesville Daily Guard:A lawsuit has been filed against Lyon College, among others, following an alleged hazing incident at the college in June.

According to the suit, a number of students “were allowed to become subjected to multiple acts of abuse, sexual abuse, harassment, assault, battery and otherwise physically and mentally abused at the hands of older East Carter County R-2 basketball team members.”

The lawsuit was filed in Carter County Circuit Court in Van Buren, Mo., on Aug. 16, naming Lyon College in Batesville, Lyon summer athletic camps coordinator Kevin Jenkins, East Carter County R-2 School District, East Carter basketball coach Benjamin “Benji” Stahl and East Carter athletic director Eric Allen as defendants.

The suit was filed by Mark Kennedy and Christopher L. Yarbro in Poplar Bluff, Mo., on behalf of 11 East Carter students and their parents.

Twenty-two students attended a summer basketball camp at Lyon June 10-13, and Stahl “told the Plaintiffs that their failure to participate in the basketball camp would adversely impact their playing time in the up and coming basketball season,” according to the lawsuit.

Stahl was the only Carter County adult who attended the Lyon camp, and East Carter failed to send additional staff, coaches or other supervisory individuals” to assure the safety and well-being of the students, “although officials at East Carter had assured the parents that the team would be well supervised at the camp,” the suit states.

Stahl stayed in a room on the first floor of the dormitory, while the students were placed on the third floor of the dorm. The college said in a statement that three Lyon students who were serving as camp counselors were also on the third floor.

The lawsuit alleges, however, that the students were unsupervised during lunch and dinner breaks, and after 10 p.m. until the following morning, and that the defendants were negligent in their care, safety and supervision of the student campers by failing to monitor the students, provide adequate staff with sufficient adult chaperones and to train those chaperones, as well as failing to provide direction to campers to maintain order during the field trip.

The suit also states the defendants did not properly investigate the college’s facilities, staff and camp itinerary to make sure Lyon would be able to safely monitor and supervise the campers.

Furthermore, they “failed to protect plaintiffs from the violent propensities of fellow members of the East Carter County R-2 basketball team, when Defendants knew or should have known of their propensities or of the hazing activities occurring within Defendant East Carter County’s basketball program,” and that it knew or should have known of Allen’s, Stahl’s and Jenkins’ “reckless and careless propensities.”

The lawsuit also claims that Stahl did not give the students’ families his room number and contact information while at the camp.

Because of the alleged abuse, the campers were “physically injured, suffered anxiety and stress, were mentally abused by the sexual nature of the acts, suffered emotional trauma, and all such injuries are permanent in nature and continuing.”

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages.

A Lyon College spokesman told the Guard it is the college’s policy to not comment on pending litigation. The college is being represented by Rose Law Firm in Little Rock.

Lyon officials issued a statement in June saying they were unaware of the incident until after the camp had ended and the boys had returned to their homes, nor was the incident reported to any camp staffers or coaches at the time.

Stahl has since resigned his position at East Carter, and some of the students involved have been suspended, according to various news reports.

Hazing charges have been filed against six East Carter students, who have not been identified because they are juveniles. They are to appear in court Monday.

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. 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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.