Alvarez orders ‘top-to-bottom’ Maine West hazing review
BY JON SEIDEL AND BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporters December 4, 2012 5:36PM
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. File Photo. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: January 6, 2013 9:57AM
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez wants a “complete and thorough, top-to-bottom” review of alleged hazing abuses at Maine West High School.
The review by her office’s sex crimes division began Tuesday and will involve the case “in its totality,” said spokeswoman Sally Daly.
Alvarez’s order follows several news reports and a lawsuit claiming at least two soccer coaches, Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez, sanctioned a hazing culture at the northwest suburban high school. The lawsuit claims the culture led to the sexual assault of at least three soccer players and one freshman baseball player.
The coaches have not commented publicly. Divincenzo has ignored numerous calls while Rodriguez could not be reached. The men have been relieved of their duties and are not allowed on school grounds.
Mike Kujawa, the attorney representing Maine Township High School District 207 and its employees in the lawsuit, said Tuesday he didn’t have enough information about the prosecutors’ review and declined to comment. A district spokesman said it’ll cooperate fully, and officials there have said they don’t tolerate hazing and will hire an independent investigator.
Tony Romanucci, the Chicago lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said he applauds the state’s attorney for reviewing the case but had no further comment. Des Plaines police Deputy Chief Nick Treantafeles said he didn’t know about the review until contacted by the Sun-Times.
“This is news to us and if they want to open the investigation and look at it from top-to-bottom, that’s fantastic and we’ll be happy to accommodate [whatever] their requests are,” he said.
Daly said the review will involve recent allegations as well as those from years past. A plaintiff in the lawsuit told the Chicago Sun-Times he was attacked twice in 2007 by older players who tackled him, pulled his pants down, shredded his underwear and sodomized him with their fingers.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said Monday it had referred allegations that employees at Maine Township schools knew of abuse as early as 2007 to Cook County prosecutors. The penalty for not reporting abuse of a child ranges from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Six teenagers have already been charged with misdemeanor battery and hazing for a September incident cited in the lawsuit and police reports in which multiple young soccer players were allegedly sodomized with fingers and sticks.
Police have said they originally sought felony charges for the teens, but prosecutors declined, saying they did not have enough evidence.