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Hazing News

Press release last December in the Blackfoot team incident (which the prosecutor argues does not meet his definition of hazing)

First: some background on this case: (Parents requested to read first. Some material is explicit in terms of the allegations).

Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 9:20 am 

Office of the Prosecuting Attorney Bingham County 

This press release is intended to clarify and correct the inaccurate information set forth in the Blackfoot Morning News on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010, with the caption “Charges filed; Juvenile charged in separate BHS hazing case.” The body of the article states that “five addition juveniles have been charged with misdemeanor offenses . . .” and that “the five will be tried in juvenile court.” This press release is also intended to address other concerns with the media’s coverage of the charges involving Nathan Walker, Anthony Clarke, Logan Chidester and Tyson Katseanes.

New incident

During the investigation that centers on allegations against Walker, Clarke, Chidester and Katseanes, law enforcement discovered an incident at Blackfoot High School that involved five juveniles. This new matter appears to have been an isolated, one-time incident. It did not involve the same allegations made against Walker, Clarke, Chidester, Katseanes or the juvenile charged in relation to those same allegations. The new matter also did not involve anyone against whom charges have already been filed.

Contrary to what is stated in the Blackfoot Morning News article, no charges have been filed against the five juveniles. Law enforcement officers have completed an investigation of the particular incident involved and have forwarded this information to the Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney’s office for review. The prosecutor’s office has not made a decision on whether charges will be filed. As such, no paperwork has been filed with the court alleging any criminal conduct against any of these five juveniles.

The prosecutor’s office has been informed that law enforcement officials provided the parents of the five juveniles with a notice called a “Juvenile Violation Report.” (They are frequently referred to by  law enforcement as a “JVR”). This is not a court document. The filling out of the JVR and providing it to the parent is not “charging” the juvenile with an offense. The JVRs are provided to parents to notify them of their child’s alleged criminal conduct and to advise them that charges could be brought.

This case will be handled consistently with the handling of other juvenile cases. No special consideration will be given to it based on the existence of another case involving students of the Blackfoot High School. The people involved are different. The alleged behavior is different. The cases need to be evaluated and handled based on their own individual circumstances. With regard to juveniles, that includes consideration of whether  the incident should be referred to as a diversionary program, in lieu of the filing of a petition with the court. Such consideration is given to every case that is submitted to this office for review of possible criminal charges against a juvenile who has had no prior juvenile court record, which is the case with the five juveniles involved with this most recent matter. The prosecutor’s office will consider the ability to prove a charge, the nature of conduct involved, any sanctions imposed by other authorities, e.g. parents and/or schools, and the ability of a diversion program to hold the juvenile accountable for the offense, rehabilitate or correct their behavior, and protect society.

CNN report

CNN recently ran a piece in which the caption read “ Former high school athletes are accused of falsely imprisoning teammates and forcing them to perform sex acts.” The news reporter went on to repeat this same allegation.

A claim that the alleged victims in the existing court cases were forced to perform sex acts is not true. The complaints filed against Walker, Clarke, Chidester or Katseanes, make no such allegation. My office has all of the available police reports and has discussed the case regularly with investigating officers. There is no information that this office is aware of upon which an allegation that the victims had to perform sex acts could be based.

Hazing

This office takes that position that neither the new matter, nor the allegations involving Walker, Clarke, Chidester and Katseanes involving “hazing.” Any common usage of that word connotes a traditional ritual used to initiate a person or group. No facts involved in this new matter of the prior case fits that common understanding of the term “hazing.” I would request that the media discontinue the use of that term “hazing” to describe these incidents. It is misleading the public about the nature of the allegations.

J. Scott Andrew

Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney

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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