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Allegations of Hazing and Sexual Assault in Hammond

Steve Wagner

A soccer player at Clark High School in Hammond has alleged eight other students were involved in a sexual assault on him in the locker room on February 5. It appears to be a case of hazing, with the victim reporting he had heard something might happen as a form of initiation and that the ritual has a name and history for the team. After a team meeting in the coach’s office, the victim went to change in the locker room and was attacked by a group of other students. One student did try to intervene and help the victim but was physically prevented from assisting. After the assault, the victim was forced into a shower and left with the water on. School administrators called police and Child Protective Services on February 5, and the school has suspended two students. It is possible others will face suspension. The Juvenile Division of the Lake County prosecutor’s office has begun the process of formal charges.

For many of us, our time playing on youth sports teams is a joyful memory. Whether we joined teammates on a court, field, mat, rink, track or other venue, it’s hard for former youth athletes to forget the many hours spent with teammates and coaches, who were often our best friends and most invested mentors. Unfortunately, the experience has a dark side for some student athletes, as well as for students involved in a myriad of other activities. StopHazing reports 47% of students are hazed before they get to college, and 55% of college students who are involved in club, teams, or organizations experience hazing in college.

What Is Hazing?

Hazing is any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate. It’s key to note that seeming willingness of the individual himself or herself does not change or lessen allegations of hazing. Indeed, 9 out of 10 hazing victims do not consider themselves to have been hazed.

Common hazing practices can include excessive alcohol consumption, humiliation, sleep deprivation, sex acts, and isolation. In college hazing, it is estimated coaches and organization advisors are aware of hazing 25% of the time, a percentage assumed to be even higher in high schools. A recent New York Times article rightly states that adults are missing in action when it comes to hazing incidents happening in our schools’ locker rooms, buses, and elsewhere on and off school grounds. Critics say the adults working with these young people too often turn their heads and pretend not to know what’s happening. In many instances, they believe the events are “good” for the team and promote team bonding (and of course, they believe this impacts the team’s ability to win). It is irresponsible and can lead to lifelong physical and emotional challenges for a victim, especially as the act are becoming more violent.

If you have suffered the injury or loss of a loved one due to hazing rituals like the one in this case, Wagner Reese can assist you in your recovery. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation on your Indiana personal injury case and let us help you get the justice you deserve!


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