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Wilson trial update: from the Niagara Gazette

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Published: June 09, 2009 10:22 pm

WILSON: Trial date set for two teens in hazing case
By Joe Olenick
Niagara Gazette

A trial date of June 27 has been set for two of the three former Wilson Central School varsity baseball players charged in connection with an alleged hazing incident.

Colton Sherman, 18; and Christopher Sidote, 18, will have their cases go to trial, while Geoffrey A. Seefeldt, 19, will have his charges replaced with a youthful offender status plea. All three had been facing charges of first- and second-degree hazing and forcible touching. The charges are misdemeanors except second degree hazing, which is a violation.

Sherman and Sidote have youthful offender status but their case will continue to trial. Because of their status, the trial will be held in a closed-door courtroom in front of Town Justice George Berger.

Mark Guglielmi, who represents Seefeldt, said his client was relieved for the case to near a conclusion. There will be no criminal record and further details concerning Seefeldt’s case will be determined later.

“It (the sexual abuse) didn’t happen,” Guglielmi said. “It’s an acceptable resolution.”

Andrew Vona, who represents Sidote, and Kevin Shelby, who is representing Sherman, said they were confident their clients would be acquitted once the trial concludes.

“If the truth comes out,” Vona said.

“We are very confident they will be exonerated,” Shelby said.

State police had alleged in April 2008 the three teens, while members of the Wilson varsity baseball team, had sexually abused members of the school’s junior varsity team in a hazing incident during a bus ride home from a game in Niagara Falls. The three had been facing charges that have been reduced.

A trial date has been set for July 6 for former Wilson baseball coaches William Atlas and Thomas Baia, who are charged in connection with the alleged hazing incident. The coaches are charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

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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