Lawsuit: Sex assaults part of Maine West soccer team hazing ritual
BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org November 19, 2012 8:24PM
The mother of a 14-year-old Maine West High student participated in a press conference with attorneys to announce she will file a lawsuit against staff members and former coaches that allowed hazing, which included assault and sexual assault. Note: Mother’s identity will not be released.) She spoke at the podium. On the right is her attorney, Antonio M. Romanucci. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: December 21, 2012 6:27AM
A suit filed Monday against the Maine Township High School District claims three Maine West freshman students were sexually assaulted during a soccer team hazing ritual at the school.
The suit goes into details of the hazing that have not been released by either the Des Plaines Police Department or the school district, which have both conducted investigations. Since the Sept. 27 incident, police have charged six students as juveniles while a total of ten students have been disciplined, according to the district. Some of the ten students were barred from playing on the soccer team and one student told ABC News he was suspended.
During the investigation, two soccer coaches have been reassigned with pay, and three other coaches who are not teachers were removed from their coaching responsibilities, according to the district.
“Inappropriate behavior” was the only official reason cited so far for the actions.
According to attorney Antonio Romanucci, who filed the suit on behalf of a 14-year-old boy, the assault occurred as part of an initiation after the victims were promoted from the freshmen team to the varsity team.
The suit alleges that coaches ordered a “campus run,” a term which was a code indicating the hazing should commence.
At that signal, older team members grabbed Romanucci’s client, tore off his pants and underwear, held him down on the school’s soccer field and sodomized him with their fingers and other foreign objects, the suit alleges.
While this went on, the coaches “stood idly by” according to complaint.
Two other boys who are not part of the legal action got the same treatment, the suit claimed.
“That behavior in today’s society is disgusting,” Romanucci said at a press conference Monday. “It is never to be condoned, it should never have happened.”
The boy’s mother also spoke out, saying she was angry at the school. “I feel like the coaches should have kept him safe on the soccer field, and they didn’t do that.”
Romanucci said the school has interviewed over 100 people in its investigation and that the number of victims could grow. “I do have information that at least takes this back another three to four years,” he said. “This is a lot deeper than we probably know about right now.”
The school district said it does not comment on pending litigation, but issued a statement summarizing the investigative and disciplinary steps it has taken so far. The statement also noted the district itself started the investigation after someone made a complaint. “We take the misconduct involving the soccer team very seriously,” the district said.
The suit asks for monetary damages and for the school to make changes to keep similar incidents from occurring.
Despite the loss of team members, the Maine West soccer team went on to finish its best season in history before losing a regional final Oct. 20.