Hazing News

Texas Standard radio: A look at the sodomy case involving firefighters

Here is the link to the audio story


When a hazing incident makes the news, we usually think of college campuses – a fraternity rush gone wrong, or an initiation ritual for a sport team. But not always. That was the case this week in Texas.

Five members of the Ellis County Volunteer Fire Department have been charged with aggravated sexual assault. The incident allegedly occurred back in January as part of a hazing ritual for new recruits.


This story includes some explicit details about a disturbing incident.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the men held a male recruit down and sexually assaulted him with a broomstick, and then a sausage. Another person, who has also been arrested, filmed the incident. The video captured the cheers and laughter of fellow firefighters.

“This is all about loyalty and trust – but it’s more than that,” says Hank Nuwer, a journalism professor at Franklin College and member of “Being a fireman is a high-status job … there’s status and power there, and this was definitely a power play.”

“The problem with this kind of hazing,” Nuwer says, “is that, with the victim, he becomes a pariah if he says something. And it isn’t about bonding in this case – it’s really a form of terrible bullying, And it must have been really shaming to have a woman in the room photographing while this ordeal was taking place.”

Nuwer says hazing laws need to be reconsidered nationwide.

“This same thing happened in a different context in South Carolina, and the law did not apply to high school students. In a case near Hilton Head, there was a student who was raped, sodomized, and the sheriff would not press charges because the law did not cover it.”


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. 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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