Records: Hazing at football camp included sexual assault

Posted at 3:22 PM, Aug 16, 2019

CLEVELAND (AP) — Eleven Cleveland-area high school football players were victims of hazing at a camp in June, including four who were sexually assaulted by teammates, court records show.

Authorities say the assaults and hazing occurred during a Berea-Midpark High School football camp held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

An 18-year-old student was indicted Wednesday as an adult on charges that include rape, sexual battery, kidnapping, hazing, unlawful restraint, evidence tampering and obstructing justice.

Two 17-year-old boys were charged Thursday in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court with rape, sexual battery, hazing and unlawful restraint. A 15-year-old boy was charged with hazing and unlawful restraint.

Charging documents indicate four Berea-Midpark players were sexually assaulted, including one player who was raped.

The Cleveland Police Sex Crimes Unit began investigating after being contacted June 19 by Case Western police. According to a police report, Berea-Midpark High School Principal Vincenzo Ruggiero had contacted the school's police department when he received an anonymous complaint about the hazing.

Berea City School District Superintendent Tracy Wheeler in a statement Wednesday to the school community said, "During the course of our investigation, we have not found any evidence that any coach had any knowledge of the hazing incident."

Wheeler said students can be disciplined or prevented from engaging in extracurricular activities while charges against them are pending.

"Appropriate athletic and academic consequences will be handed out by the administration as deemed appropriate," Wheeler said.

Case Western Reserve University issued a statement on Friday that said, "We are horrified by the conduct described in these charges, and devastated for the victims and their families."

The university also said it began investigating the school's policies and practices regarding overnight youth camps when university staff is not providing direct supervision of those staying in residence halls. The statement said Case Western is "seriously considering all residential camps that do not directly involve our own trained staff."