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Oregon case pulls up short of most serious consequences for hazers

Deschutes County Circuit Judge Stephen Forte wondered aloud how things got out of hand

By Eric Rucker, KTVZ.COM

After entering no contest pleas last week in Clatsop County Circuit Court for an assault on a teammate on a school bus, five former Molalla High boys basketball players were back in court Monday, this time in Deschutes County.

The former players agreed to plea deals on charges of assaulting the teammate at a Sisters hotel hot tub when the team was playing the area in late 2006.

Jason Kropf, the state prosecutor in the case, said the younger victim was singled out.

“It became apparent the victim had become the focus of this behavior, and as the basketball season moved along, the behavior escalated,” Kropf told Ciurcuit Judge Stephen Forte before sentences were handed down.

Although they each say their role was different, every player did admit to hazing their former teammate.

Four of the five young men entered “Alford pleas,” meaning they believe if the case were to go to trial, a jury would have enough evidence to convict them. Another player once again pleaded no contest.

The former players’ lawyers argued their clients are good individuals, in some cases claiming they weren’t fully aware of what was going on.

Before sentencing, Forte asked the players himself what happened.

“Is that just part of the process of indoctrination? What did you think was going on?” the judge asked one player who said he held the vicitim’s leg prior to and during the assualt.

“I thought they were just getting pantsed – they were all getting pantsed, not just the victim, the former player said.

Two of the Molalla players were sentenced to 30 days in the Deschutes County Jail, including 150 hours of community service for committing the assault. Three others were handed 10 days in juvenile detention with 100 hours of community service for assisting in the assault.

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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