Hazing News

Newly obtained police documents claim principal Ken James and head coach Steve Belles knew of the hazing in 5/16

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Excerpt from 12 News

CHANDLER, Ariz. – Chandler police said both the principal and former football coach at Hamilton High School denied having any knowledge of hazing happening among players on the school’s football team. However, evidence collected during the investigation into allegations of sexual assault suggests otherwise.

Newly obtained police documents claim both principal Ken James and then head coach Steve Belles knew of the hazing and sexual assault allegations as far back as last year — but did not report it until a month later.

According to the documents, James had a meeting in November with two parents claiming their son was assaulted by other football players. The parents told police James took notes and then interviewed the victim without proper training, and did not notify police.

A binder containing notes from that meeting was found in James’ office when police served a search warrant at the school in June.

The report indicates Belles knew of the allegations as far back as May 2016 and eventually was instructed by James to handle the situation.

Police cite interviews with players who claim the coach, on several occasions, warned the players against hazing — allegedly telling them to “stop raping each other.”

Detectives also say Belles denied having a conversation in January with administrators about the hazing allegations, despite an email sent to him about the issue.

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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