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Wilson case erodes. Lesser charges planned: Update

From the Buffalo News:

WILSON — The Niagara County District’s Attorney office has decided to withdraw felony charges lodged against three Wilson High School baseball players who had been accused of sexually abusing two junior varsity players on a team bus.

Defense attorneys in the case said after a brief town court appearance tonight that they expect charges of aggravated third-degree sexual abuse and child endangerment to be replaced with new misdemeanor charges of forcible touching and hazing.

The attorneys said their clients would continue to plead not guilty to the new charges. They speculated that prosecutors had decided the evidence was too weak to support felony charges.

Assistant District Attorney Robert A. Zucco would say only that the charges are being “refined.” The three defendants are scheduled to return to court Sept. 9 for what the defense attorneys said would likely be arraignments on the reduced charges.

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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