More families join hazing lawsuit against suburban school district
Three plaintiffs have joined a civil lawsuit involving alleged hazing at Maine West High School in suburban Des Plaines.
The four students are accusing coaches and school officials of allowing some students from the baseball and soccer teams to subject other players to physical and sexual abuse. The three students who joined the suit yesterday are members of the baseball and soccer teams.
The lawsuit was filed last week against Maine Township High School District 207 on behalf of a 14-year-old student who said last September older members of the team ripped off his clothes, grabbed his genitals and sodomized him with objects.
Attorney Tony Romanucci said he believes such incidents have been going on for some time at Maine Township.
“I can tell you …we may be able to bring this back now to 2006,” Romanucci said. “So many people have come forward based upon what we have so far. I am having a hard time keeping up with all the phone calls.”
He also said that he received information about so-called hazing in the swimming and water polo programs.
One of the alleged victims' mothers appeared at a press conference on Wednesday wearing sunglasses and a baseball hat. She refused to give her identity and said that she gave a letter to the school complaining about abuse of her son in 2008. A copy of the letter was presented at the press conference. According to her, the Maine West High School principal, Audrey Haugan, did not investigate the incident at the time.
She said this year she also talked to school district Superintendent Kenneth Wallace after she learned about the allegations from last September.
“He told me that in order to be sexual assault there needed to be sexual gratification and I was wrong,” the mother said. “I told him that my son was pinned down, pants ripped off exposed, boxers completely ripped off, in my opinion that’s a sexual assault.”
In a statement, Maine Township School District said it first heard of the 2008 incident this month. That’s shortly after allegations involving hazing this year caused uproar.
The district said it was not aware of the correspondence between the mother and the school four years ago.
“That incident, involving members of West’s freshman baseball team, came to the attention of Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Wallace on November 16, 2012, at which time it was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services,” according to the statement from Maine Township High School District 207.
The district said it already made a report with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and that it’s working with the Des Plaines police, who are investigating
Six students were charged as juveniles with misdemeanor battery and hazing after the September attack, and 10 students were disciplined.