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Judge allows two Wilson accused back into classroom: Buffalo News

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Two of the three students accused of hazing boys on a baseball team bus will be allowed back at Wilson Central School today by a judge’s order. That decision is drawing the ire of a concerned parents group.

Colton J. Sherman and Christopher A. Sidote, both 17, and Geoffrey Seefeldt, 18, are accused of assaulting at least two junior varsity players during an April 17 bus trip back to Wilson from Niagara Falls. The cases against Sherman, Sidote and Seefeldt had been adjourned until Dec. 9, but parents of the victims learned that juniors Sherman and Sidote, who have been home-schooled, will be allowed back in school. Seefeldt has already graduated.

“I am very upset, along with a large group of people, that we have students returning to school that were in the hazing incident,” said Patty McIntosh, a mother of two children at the school. “A lot of parents do not know that this is happening. They have not been back to court yet, but our school district has decided that it is OK for them to be put back in school.”

Bob Martin, who has four children in the Wilson District, is the spokesman for the concerned parent group, which met in a member’s home on Sunday.

“It appears the administration and school board are trying to sweep it under the rug,” Martin said. “There’s a lot of things going on that are making the victims feel that there is no justice.

“Nobody’s saying crucify everybody without a trial, but the problem is they’re trying to get it all dismissed,” Martin added. “They don’t even want it to go to trial. We’re saying, let the evidence be heard. The troopers are saying let us present the evidence, but you can’t present it if the DA won’t make sure it goes to trial.”

Town Justice George Berger, Bob Zucco, the Wilson principal and the lawyers for the suspended students attended a private proceeding. “The order of protection was amended so they could go back to school,” Berger said. “That’s a matter for the school.”

The judge said the meeting was confidential and could not answer why the order of protection was changed.

The concerned citizens want the public to know what’s going on.

“There’s a lot of parents and students who are concerned with the way things are going,” Martin said. “We’ve given up trying to go the regular avenues, so now we’re hoping to use the power of all the media to bring this back to the forefront. It’s not an indictment of the whole school system. Maybe one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch but if you leave it with the whole bunch, it will.”

The group has attended school board meetings, sent letters and spoke with members of the board. “We tried to keep this in-house, but then we’ve got our kids coming home and telling us that teachers are standing up there and telling them that the school resource officer is a bad thing, not needed and giving Wilson a black eye.”

The concerned citizens were scheduled to meet with Superintendent Michael Wendt and state Sen. George Maziarz (R-Newfane) today concerning a school resource officer. The group wants a school resource officer who is a specially trained officer of the law, someone who is trained on how to interact with the kids and faculty.

“I don’t want to make this an us versus them mentality. It’s just what happened, happened. The people who were there have to be held accountable,” Martin said. “What’s being done here is that the victims are being entirely forgotten. The more time that passes, the more faceless they become, the more you forget about it.

“Something has to be done and they are not listening.”

Calls to Superintendent Wendt on Sunday were not returned.

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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