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Tallmadge (Ohio) hazing case ends with pain and sorrow and apology and sentencing

Moderator: Hope all can find counseling and peace. Very sad and sobering incident all around. HN
Tallmadgeexpress.com
Teen sentenced to probation for rape, hazing

by Amanda Harnocz

Akron — “I thought what I was doing was nothing more than a silly prank to get people to laugh — I realize now the severity of what I did, and it was nothing to laugh about,” the 17-year-old Tallmadge High School football player guilty of delinquency charges of rape and hazing said during his sentencing April 28.

Summit County Juvenile Judge Linda Teodosio sentenced him to one year of probation, psychological counseling, an alcohol assessment and treatment class and 40 hours of community service. He was also ordered to write a letter of apology to the victim and his family, have no contact with the victim, his property and his family and to register as a Tier III sex offender after being found guilty March 18.

Teodosio said the school district will decide whether he will be allowed back to Tallmadge High School for his senior year.

The student has not been at the high school since the incident happened, according to the judge.

“We are not permitted to comment on the disciplinary action that may or may not be taken against any individual student. We however will say that we have followed the policies and procedures outlined in our Student Code of Conduct,” Tallmadge City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ferguson said.

“We must continue to be sensitive to the victim and are hopeful that he can achieve some sense of being able to move forward now that the media attention on the court proceedings are over,” he added.

He was accused of hazing the victim, who is also a member of the football team, this past August at the school.

The student must register as a sexual offender every 90 days with a sheriff for life or until the court feels is necessary, but is not a public notification registrant, Teodosio said. A Tier III registrant is the most serious sex offender classification allowable by state law.

The Tallmadge Express generally does not name juveniles accused of crimes.

If any of the orders are violated by the student during his probation, he faces incarceration in the Department of Youth Services for at least one year until he is 21, the judge said.

Teodosio said her sentencing was based on state laws, the student’s psychological evaluation and orders she felt would “help to make him a productive part of the community.”

After evaluating the psychological assessment, Teodosio told the student he is “at a very low risk to re-offend — but you need to control what your impulses might be. You don’t know how to say stop.”

The offender and his mother both tearfully spoke, facing the victim and about 10 members of his immediate family, before the sentencing.

“I wish I could go back — not because of the consequences, but because of what I did,” the student said. “There is nothing I can say to take away the pain.”

His mother said, “we didn’t raise a perfect child … but like all of us feel, he made a mistake.”

She apologized for how the situation has affected the school, team and entire community.

“This has fractured relationships and shaken the core of a community that is traditionally close-knit,” Teodosio said.

The judge also mentioned the student will need to find a court-approved way to make amends with the victim and the city of Tallmadge during his probation.

Teodosio told the victim and his family she was impressed they took the situation to this level and hoped more people would take these steps so that actions like this do not happen anymore.

“My family and my brother — we have been publicly humiliated since this whole nightmare began,” the victim’s sister said.

“This has undermined the core of our family’s foundation,” the victim’s father said to the student and his family. “Our family will pick up our pieces and try to make some good of it, I hope your family can do the same.”

Others involved
in hazing incident

Four other Tallmadge students were involved in the August incident, and on Oct. 29, two of the players charged with hazing pleaded “true,” the juvenile equivalent to “guilty.”

Another juvenile pleaded “true” to a delinquency charge of disorderly conduct Dec. 21.

At Prosecutor Dan Riedl’s recommendation, Teodosio ordered the three to write a five-page essay on the effects of bullying, have no contact with the victim unless the victim first approaches and 40 hours of community service.

Also on Oct. 29, one player pleaded “not true” to misdemeanor hazing charges, the juvenile equivalent to “not guilty.”

Ursetti said that youth had his charges dismissed after Riedl discussed it with the victim and the victim’s family.
(Comment: well-written story by this reporter on a heartbreaking case). HN

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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