A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, claiming that school officials allowed hazing. According to the claim, the Huber Heights City School officials knew that there were hazing incidents between athletes and student in the form of attacks, but they did not take action which would protect the students.
The attorney for the plaintiff stated that they were attempting to increase awareness at educational institutions regarding hazing incidents and push school officials to take steps to prevent them. The attorney stated that school officials looked the other way when sports teams did hazing-type actives as a way to bond and build “team unity.” School officials stated that they could not comment on the lawsuit but that they take hazing and bullying seriously. The civil lawsuit seeks punitive damages and compensation from two teenage boys who were convicted of a sexual assault as part of the incident against a classmate.
“Schools need to investigate reports of hazing and take proactive steps to discourage such behavior,” stated John Hale, Waxahachie personal injury attorney.
The victim, a freshman aged 14 years at the time of the incident, stated that he believed the assault was retaliation after he and an upperclassmen became involved in a dispute at the school gym. The boys who attacked him were on the school baseball team.
Though felony rape charges were considered, in the end, one boy pled guilty to second-degree felony assault; the other boy pled guilty to first-degree misdemeanor assault. Both boys were suspended from school for 10 days. The felony offender was given a sentence (suspended) at a youth facility, while the offender charged with a misdemeanor received probation.
One of the boys identified as an offender reportedly told police he, too, had been assaulted similarly as a freshman, and witnesses later came forward to report that they had also been assaulted as freshmen. All three students reported that they believed it was such standard behavior that he felt the assaults were known to school authorities, including coaches. The victim’s attorney contends that the multiple reports of similar activity points to school officials knowing that the hazing regularly took place, and did not do anything to stop it.
The civil suit is seeking damages against the attackers for battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment, in excess of $75,000.