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Minnesota teen given reprieve in sexual hazing sentencing

Austin 18-year-old sentenced after hazing at hockey practice
11/16/2007 10:29:39 AM

By Tim Ruzek

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

An Austin teenager must perform community service and write an apology letter to the victim of a hazing incident from a year ago following a high school captains’ practice for hockey.

The 18-year-old man, who was 17 at the time of the incident, was sentenced Wednesday to do 80 hours of community service and have six months of supervised probation.

He pleaded guilty Oct. 3 in Mower Juvenile Court to a felony count of aiding and abetting indecent exposure. Under a stay of adjudication, the felony will be removed from his juvenile record if he successfully completes probation.

If he commits a serious probation violation, the man could be forced to register as a sex offender, Judge Donald E. Rysavy said Wednesday.

The boy has a “tremendous impetus” to follow probation and get the matter behind him, the judge said.

The teen, who declined comment at sentencing, also can’t have contact with the victim unless it’s in a school function, or the victim requests contact through the county’s correctional services.

In his plea last month, the boy admitted to pushing the 16-year-old boy down when the boy entered a locker room Oct. 26, 2006, at Packer Arena following an Austin High School boys hockey captains’ practice. Coaches don’t run those practices.

Other boys held the victim down while another player exposed himself to the victim as part of the hazing, defense attorney Evan Larson said at the time.

A petition had alleged that the teen had grabbed the victim from behind, wrestled him to the floor and held his arms while the other player exposed himself.

The victim reported the incident to police on Nov. 2, 2006, saying he had been humiliated and frightened by the incident, which was witnessed by about 10 people, the petition says.

The defendant and the boy who exposed himself were offered a juvenile diversion program with county corrections rather than face criminal charges. The teen sentenced Wednesday, however, was charged in juvenile court in May after he failed to complete the program.

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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