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Hazing News

Parent Criticizes Ottawa County Prosecutor Lee Fisher; district learns from mistakes

District tries to prevent more hazing
Thursday, September 13, 2007

As the courtroom saga ends from hazing incidents that stunned Coopersville, school district leaders are taking no chances on a repeat performance.

“I don’t think there is anyone here at (Coopersville Public Schools) that does not know what hazing is and that it’s not acceptable,” Superintendent Kevin O’Neill said.

With the recent start of fall sports, the district is making sure there is no inappropriate behavior in locker rooms and that students, particularly student athletes, know about hazing and its damaging effects.

Among the efforts this year are a written schedule of coaches to act as locker room supervisors and an anti-hazing talk by a Grand Valley State University educator.

The changes and programs come as the last of four teens implicated in several acts of hazing in April and May was sentenced Wednesday in Ottawa County Family Court on a charge of gross indecency.

Robert Miller, 17, was sentenced to a minimum six months of probation and 26 hours of community service. He must get counseling to address “bullying” behavior if ordered by a psychologist.

The other three teens, Scott Bush, 15; Zane Schaefer, 16; and Joshua Schoenborn, 15; received similar sentences on the same charge.

All were members of the Coopersville junior varsity baseball team when they were accused in what police reports described as “shark-bait” attacks on other players, including one member of the freshman baseball team.

The victims were held down while the assailants touched them inappropriately.

Parents of two of the victims named in court documents earlier called for tough sentences. On Wednesday, one voiced outrage at what he called a lenient sentence.

“As far as I’m concerned, the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office did us no justice at all,” he said. “If they were our attorneys, I would have fired them a long time ago.”

Ottawa County Prosecutor Lee Fisher earlier said the sentence of probation and community service was consistent with juvenile sentencing guidelines for teens who have no prior criminal record.

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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